Mark Story

Blue Preview: Your guide to Kentucky’s football game at Florida

Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney scored on a 36-yard run out of the Wildcat formation during the second quarter of Florida’s 28-27 win over Kentucky last season at Kroger Field.
Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney scored on a 36-yard run out of the Wildcat formation during the second quarter of Florida’s 28-27 win over Kentucky last season at Kroger Field.

Kentucky at Florida

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla.

TV: SEC Network (play-by-play, Tom Hart; analyst, Jordan Rodgers; sideline, Cole Cubelic)

Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1; XM Channel 190, Sirius Channel 113

Records: Kentucky 1-0, 0-0 SEC; Florida 1-0, 0-0 SEC

Series: Florida leads 51-17 and has won the last 31 games in a row

Last meeting: Florida rallied from 27-14 down in the fourth quarter to beat Kentucky 28-27 on Sept. 23, 2017, at Kroger Field

Favorite: Florida is favored by 14.5 points.

The story line

One year after falling to Florida in one of the most dispiriting defeats — giving up two touchdown passes to Gators wide receivers who were uncovered at the line of scrimmage — in the star-crossed history of Kentucky Wildcats football, Mark Stoops and the Cats will try again to end an embarrassing 31-game losing streak to SEC East rival UF.

The big threat

Feleipe Franks. The Florida quarterback was shaky a season ago, including getting pulled in favor of backup Luke Del Rio in UF’s comeback victory in Lexington. However, with new Gators Coach Dan Mullen in charge, the 6-foot-6, 240-pound sophomore opened 2018 with aplomb. Franks passed for 219 yards and five touchdowns in Florida’s 53-6 season-opening victory over FCS foe Charleston Southern.

Feleipe Franks.JPG
Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks (13) threw for five touchdowns in the Gators’ 53-6 victory over FCS foe Charleston Southern last week in what was Dan Mullen’s debut as UF head coach. Phelan M. Ebenhack Associated Press

On the spot

Terry Wilson. The junior-college transfer’s first start as Kentucky quarterback did not begin in a stellar manner: The 6-3, 205-pound redshirt sophomore committed three turnovers (two interceptions and a lost fumble) and suffered a bruised shoulder in the first half of UK’s season opener against Central Michigan. To Wilson’s credit, he returned to the game and directed two second-half TD drives that sealed Kentucky’s 35-20 victory. For UK to win in The Swamp, it will need better from Wilson.

UK sophomore quarterback Terry Wilson talks about first-game jitters, early turnovers and how to move forward after the Cats' victory over Central Michigan on Saturday.

The mood

Is skeptical. Mark Stoops’ standing with the UK fan base took a hit with last year’s excruciating come-from-ahead loss — and the maddening way it went down — to Florida. The best way for the sixth-year Wildcats head man to fully make amends with the Big Blue Nation would be to beat UF this year. Of course, when one team has lost 31 in a row to another, that’s far easier said than done.

Dejected Cats fan
A dejected Kentucky fan sat in the stands after UK’s 28-27 come-from-ahead loss to Florida last season at Kroger Field. It was Florida’s 31st straight football victory over Kentucky. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

Mark Story: (859) 231-3230; Twitter: @markcstory

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