Sidelines with John Clay

Kentucky comes to a Florida fork in the road, plus more SEC notes

Vosean Joseph #11 of the Florida Gators and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson #23  celebrate a defensive stop during the game against the Charleston Southern Buccaneers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 1, 2018 in Gainesville, Florida.
Vosean Joseph #11 of the Florida Gators and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson #23 celebrate a defensive stop during the game against the Charleston Southern Buccaneers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 1, 2018 in Gainesville, Florida. Getty Images

It’s just the second week of the season, but Kentucky football hits a fork in the road in Gainesville on Saturday night.

A win snaps the embarrassing 31-year losing streak to the Florida Gators and brings the skeptical fans back into the tent after last week’s attendance of 49,138 at Kroger Field, the lowest for a home opener since 2012.

A Kentucky loss and the streak increases to 32. Plus, Mark Stoops’ Cats will have some work to do to convince the fan base it can beat the bigger names in the SEC.

Ben Roberts and I made our UK-UF predictions along with other college and NFL picks for the weekend. Our colleague Mark Story broke down the match-ups between the Cats and Gators, plus made his own pick.

In its second game under new coach Dan Mullen, Florida says it is more concerned about itself than Kentucky. The Gators breezed past Georgia Southern last Saturday, but believe they will have to put pressure on UK’s young quarterbacks and contain Benny Snell.

Jachai Polite could be a budding superstar for the Gators. The defensive lineman has worked with Florida’s strength coach to get his body fat down. “I’m kind of too old for candy,” Polite said.

The SEC Network has the 7:30 p.m. telecast. Here’s a list of the college games on television Saturday.

To the links:

Around the SEC, the big game of the day is the 3:30 p.m. matchup between Georgia and South Carolina in Columbia. Georgia coach Kirby Smart is 2-0 against his old buddy Will Muschamp and the Gamecocks.

Former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow is bullish on South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley heading into the matchup.

Georgia is expecting a loud crowd at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Mississippi State heads to Kansas State as a heavy favorite in a road game against a Power Five opponent.

The return of Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, suspended last week, brings uncertainty for Bill Snyder’s defense.

It’s an early wake-up call for the Bulldogs, and just the 11 a.m. Central Time start in the Little Apple, i.e. Manhattan.

As Texas A&M’s new coach, Jimbo Fisher welcomes old friend/foe in Dabo Swinney and Clemson to College Station. Fisher knows the Tigers well from his days at Florida State. But he’s just getting started with the Aggies.

No. 1 ranked Alabama is playing host to Arkansas State, but the big news in Tuscaloosa might be that the school is lowering food prices at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

In the same vein, as Tennessee tries to bounce back from last week’s whipping by West Virginia, this is the first home game at Neyland Stadium with UT’s new no smoking policy.

Arkansas is visiting Fort Collins to take on a Colorado State team that is off to an 0-2 start.

LSU will build a statue to legendary baseball coach Skip Bertman outside Box Stadium.

SEC football schedule for Saturday

  • 12:00 – Mississippi State at Kansas State (ESPN)

  • 12:00 – Nevada at Vanderbilt (SEC)

  • 3:30 – Arkansas State at Alabama (ESPN2)

  • 3:30 – Georgia at South Carolina (CBS)

  • 4:00 – Southern Miss at Ole Miss (SEC)

  • 4:00 – East Tennessee State at Tennessee (SEC)

  • 7:00 – Clemson at Texas A&M (ESPN)

  • 7:00 – Southeastern Louisiana at LSU (ESPN2)

  • 7:00 – Wyoming at Missouri (ESPNU)

  • 7:30 – Alabama State at Auburn (SEC alternate)

  • 7:30 – Florida at Kentucky (SEC)

  • 7:30 – Arkansas at Colorado State (CBS Sports)
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