Kentucky vs. Florida: Keys to the game

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistSeptember 27, 2013 

  • Tennessee at Kentucky

    When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30

    TV: ESPNU

    Records: Kentucky 2-9 (0-7 SEC); Tennessee 4-7 (1-6)

The mood

Is surprisingly upbeat about a possible UK upset, with even Dick Vitale picking the Cats on Twitter. UK is coming into the game off a bye week and catching the Gators with a new starting QB and without injured star defensive lineman Dominique Easley. Still, all the upset talk might make that outcome less likely. There's a reason UK hasn't beaten UF since 1986.

MARK STORY

More coverage

The Cats are bracing themselves for Florida's SEC-leading defense. Page D6

UK's locker room sends affection and respect Joker's way. Page D6

KEYS to the game

Score points early

Over the last five meetings, Florida has outscored Kentucky 97-3 in the first quarter. For its own psyche, UK needs to start fast. As Louisville showed by hitting Florida with 14 points in the first quarter of last season's Sugar Bowl en route to a surprise 33-23 win, getting on top early is also the proven route to upsetting UF.

Make big plays

Defensively, the Gators are truly mighty — first in the Southeastern Conference this week in a whopping eight team categories. Florida is allowing 55.3 yards a game rushing, 157 yards passing and 212.3 yards of total offense. Most daunting for a UK offense that was 0-for-13 on third-down conversions against Louisville, Florida has allowed its foes to convert only seven of 37 third-down tries this year. UK hitting some home runs would alleviate the need to consistently move the chains.

Pressure the quarterback

After Florida starting QB Jeff Driskel was knocked out for the season against Tennessee, Tyler Murphy replaced him and performed well, throwing for 134 yards and a touchdown and running for 84 yards and another TD. A redshirt junior, Murphy is not young, but Saturday he will be making his first college start in an SEC road game. It may be by stacking the line and making Murphy throw, but UK needs to find a way to put pressure on the new QB.

MARK STORY

When: 7 p.m. Saturday | Records: Florida 2-1; UK 1-2 | TV: ESPNU | Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1, XM Channel 200, Sirius Channel 94Series: Florida leads 46-17 and has won last 26 meetings | Last meeting: Florida won 38-0 at home on Sept. 22, 2012 | Line: Florida by 13

Online at Kentucky.com

Join the live blog during the game

John Clay hosts a live blog for fans during the game, which will also feature input from Jennifer Smith and Mark Story.

Stick around after the game

Watch for reaction, analysis, photo galleries, video interviews and more.

Mark Story: (859) 231-3230. Email: mstory@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @markcstory. Blog: markstory.bloginky.com.

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