Both Florida and Kentucky will take the field Saturday night in Lexington, Ky., boasting 3-0 records.
But if you subtract the hyphen between those two numbers, you’ll have the length of the Wildcats’ losing streak to the Gators. Yes, the skid was stretched to 30 games last year when UF rolled to a 45-7 rout.
But this appears to be a Wildcats team with a different mindset. Dating back to that loss in Gainessville, Mark Stoops has guided his team to 10 wins in their last 14 games, including a 7-5 record last season with an upset of No. 11 Louisville. UK did lose its TaxSlayer Bowl game against Georgia Tech, however,
“It’s come a long way. I don’t think there’s any denying that,” Stoops said. “Our players with each and every opportunity … it’s fair to say we’ve come a long way.
“I was very proud of the team and the coaching staff a year ago, weathering tough times. I think with every opportunity our players do become more confident.”
Kentucky got a huge road win last week, knocking off South Carolina 23-13.
Meanwhile, Florida pulled out a dramatic 26-20 victory over Tennessee on Felipe Franks’ 63-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the game.
Perhaps UF coach Jim McElwain was trying to pull off some motivational gamesmanship for his players, but he suggested on the SEC teleconference this week that the Wildcats should be considered the favorites.
“Kentucky is the team in the driver’s seat because they’re playing at home and undefeated in the East,” said McElwain.
But so are his Gators and they haven’t lost to the Wildcats in a long, long time.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Alabama at Vanderbilt, Saturday 2:30 p.m. CT, CBS
Mississippi State at Georgia, Saturday 6 p.m., ESPN
Syracuse at LSU, Saturday 6 p.m., ESPN2
Auburn at Missouri, Saturday 6:30 p.m. CT, ESPNU
Florida at Kentucky, Saturday 6:30 p.m., SEC
- Alabama (3-0):Last Week: W, Colorado State, 41-23. The Impact: Nick Saban’s bunch could find the points tougher to produce against a Vandy defense that has allowed just 13 points in three games and shut out the last Alabama (A&M) team it played.
- Georgia (3-0):Last Week: W, Samford, 42-14. The Impact: In a battle of Bulldogs between The Hedges, it will be visitor’s offensive strength (143 points scored) vs. the home squad’s defense (43 points allowed).
- Auburn (2-1):Last Week: W, Mercer, 24-10. The Impact: Tigers racked up more than 500 yards but had five turnovers, including four fumbles, against FCS school Mercer that just resumed playing football five years ago.
- Mississippi State (3-0, 1-0): Last Week: W, LSU, 37-27. The Impact:. Nick Fitzgerald scored two touchdowns rushing and threw for two more in surprising rout of LSU, which is why folks in Starkville are beginning to believe he’s the second coming of Dak Prescott.
- Kentucky (3-0, 1-0):Last Week: W, at South Carolina, 23-13. The Impact: Wildcats brought Gamecocks back to earth to become the true challenger to Vanderbilt as the dark horse team in the SEC East.
6. Florida (1-1, 1-0): Last Week: W, Tennessee, 26-20. The Impact:. Team of destiny? Gators struck on final play of game when Felipe Franks connected with Tyrie Cleveland on 63-yard bomb to topple Tennessee.
7. Tennessee (2-1, 0-1):Last Week: L, at Florida, 26-20. The Impact: Vols’ offense finally got going late in game against Gators, but defense also got burned for 20 points in fourth quarter, including crushing Hail Mary. Paybacks are Hail — remember last season’s win over Georgia?
8. Vanderbilt (3-0): Last Week: W, Kansas State, 14-7. The Impact: Derek Mason appears to have his players prepared to challenge Crimson Tide for 60 minutes – if that’s even possible. If that happens, Nick Saban might even retire on spot.
9. LSU (2-1, 0-1):Last Week: L, at Mississippi State, 31-7. The Impact: Ed Orgeron is suddenly squirming in his seat after the Tigers were manhandled in SEC opener, including being shutout in the second half.
10. South Carolina (2-1, 0-1):Last Week: L, Kentucky, 23-13. The Impact: With spectacular Deebo Samuel possibly lost for season, quarterback Jake Bentley will have to be much better to keep Gamecocks on track to a winning record. Prospects suddenly look much gloomier.
11. Texas A&M (2-1):Last Week: W, UL-Lafayette, 45-21. The Impact: Aggies really aren’t as bad as some critics suggest and they can prove it Saturday against a quite ordinary Arkansas squad.
12. Arkansas (1-1):Last Week: Idle. The Impact:. Razorbacks had two weeks to prepare for Aggies, which should translate into a huge advantage. But don’t count on it, especially with game being played on neutral field at AT&T Stadium.
13. Mississippi (2-1):Last Week: L, at California, 27-16. The Impact: Rebels had a 16-7 halftime lead on road at Cal, but a lackluster second half took truly disastrous turn when Shea Patterson threw a Pick-6 for Bears’ decisive score.
14. Missouri (1-2):Last Week: L, Purdue, 35-3. The Impact: Mizzou isn’t trending in the right direction after losing two in row, and looking rather inept doing it.
TEXAS A&M vs. Arkansas, Saturday 11 a.m. CT, ESPN
Massachusetts at TENNESSEE, Saturday 11 a.m. CT, SEC
ALABAMA at Vanderbilt, Saturday 2:30 p.m. CT, CBS
Louisiana Tech at SOUTH CAROLINA, Saturday 2:30 p.m. CT, SEC
Mississippi State at GEORGIA, Saturday 6 p.m., ESPN
Syracuse at LSU, Saturday 6 p.m., ESPN2
AUBURN at Missouri, Saturday 6:30 p.m. CT, ESPNU
FLORIDA at Kentucky, Saturday 6:30 p.m., SEC
Last Week: 5-5