For decades, Florida and Kentucky games were the opposite of rivalry games. Florida had won a record 31 straight games against Kentucky. The unprecedented streak ended in 2018. Kentucky beat the Gators who were ranked seventh at the time. And it wasn’t close. Kentucky won the game by double digits, in the swamp.
The Gators won the next two matchups against Kentucky however, last year Kentucky did it again. Florida traveled to Kentucky and left with a loss. It was a one-possession game, but the gators played sloppy football the entire game. Additionally, they scored three points in the second half. Dan Mullen’s offense looked inept at times.
In the past four years, Kentucky and Florida have been trading blows, each winning two of the matchups. These losses have been particularly embarrassing for Florida. The loss to Kentucky in 2021 began a long line of embarrassing losses that resulted in head coach Dan Mullen being fired during the season.
The gators regrouped and reloaded this offseason by hiring a new head coach and starting a new quarterback. Usually, this is a recipe for a rebuild. However, in week one new head coach Billy Napier and the Gators got a win against a top ten opponent in Utah. This win earned him the Bobby Dodd coach of the week award.
Napier isn’t the only Gator receiving praise either. The nailbiter of a game against Utah was regarded as the game of the weekend. Defensive end Brenton Cox Jr. was named SEC defensive player of the week and sophomore quarterback jumped into the Heisman conversation with his dazzling performance.
Florida is receiving praise from all directions right now. However, earlier this week Billy Napier spoke about how the team is not being complacent. In his own words “we’ve got a lot of crap to fix.” This is exactly what fans wanted to hear from the head coach.
With everyone suddenly so high on the gators after they came into the season unranked it would be easy for them to rest on their laurels and be happy with what they’ve done. That is the worst thing they could do with Kentucky coming to town this week.
There Is No Florida-Kentucky Rivalry
This game against Kentucky is another chance to make a statement against a conference opponent they’ve been trading games with in past years. This game is a chance to establish some dominance and show consistency. Considering the embarrassing loss to Kentucky last year, this Is a revenge game for the gators.
This is a big chance to separate themselves from the lower-tier SEC teams and establish themselves as one of the better teams in the country. This is a “prove it,” game and a revenge game all wrapped up in one. The gators should be motivated and ready to show the country who they really are.
Florida and Kentucky do not have a rivalry brewing. Kentucky’s two measly wins against Florida since 1986 are anomalies. They are exceptions to the rule and not indicative of these two programs being anywhere close to each other in terms of quality.
Florida’s Defense Will Be Tested Again
Billy Napier has been saying all the right things in interviews this week, and I presume he’s been relaying the same sentiment to the team. This game will not be an easy win by any means. Kentuck has a good offense that can score some points.
The Kentuck quarterback Will Levis is a really good player. He is mechanically sound and can make quick reads and get the ball to playmakers in a hurry.
Last season, Levis’s quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator were Liam Coen. He coached under Sean Mcvay with the rams in 2020 and is currently back with the rams this season. Mcvay is one of the best offensive minds in the game.
Will Levis is a projected first-round draft pick in the 2023 draft. He is capable of gashing this Florida defense. this will be a big test for the players and the coaching staff as well. I’m excited to see what adjustments the coaches make from week to week.
If the Gators have stayed hungry this week at practice and the coaches have identified the problems and made the proper changes, the Gators have nothing to worry about. But if players on defense get big head syndrome after being given credit for sealing the game then they will have issues and could potentially get torched.
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