Cats head to Gainesville looking to play spoiler


Kentucky running back Kavosiey Smoke nearly scores during the game against Florida on Saturday, September 14, 2019 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky lost 29-21. Photo by Chase Phillips | Staff

Barkley Truax

This season hasn’t gone how the Wildcats imagined back in August.

Now sitting at 3-5, Kentucky is coming off a 63-3 loss – the fifth worst defeat in program history – at No. 1 Alabama last week. It isn’t any easier this week, as the Cats take the road to face another top ten team: Florida.

Kentucky’s offense was ONLY able to muster 179 yards of total offense against the Crimson Tide, 157 of which came in the first half. All 22 of those offensive yards came from the running back position.

Other than a pick-six, none of the three quarterbacks (Terry Wilson, Joey Gatewood or Beau Allen) completed a single pass in the second half. Wilson threw for 120 yards in the first half though, which was more than he had the previous week versus Vanderbilt (110).

Early mistakes were too much for the Cats to overcome, leading to them feeling embarrassed after their effort.

“This is not acceptable,” defensive end Josh Paschal said after the game. “This is not who we are.”

They look to prove that against a Gator team that comes into this game boasting a 6-1 record, and hasn’t lost since Oct. 10 against Texas A&M.

The last matchup between these two programs came in 2019, where the Wildcats were defeated 29-21. Then-quarterback Feleipe Franks went down with an injury, allowing 2020 Heisman candidate Kyle Trask to take the reins. Following the comeback victory, he hasn’t missed a start since.

Kentucky had a chance to take the lead with less than a minute left in the fourth quarter, but a 35-yard field goal from Chance Poore pushed right before a long Gator touchdown iced the game.

But this year’s matchup is different. Not just because of the pandemic, but because Florida is on the cusp of securing a SEC championship berth and a potential run at the playoffs – this year, the Gators have everything to lose.

Florida is coming off a decisive 38-17 win over Vanderbilt. Three touchdowns and 383 yards from Trask allowed the Gators to pull away in the second half after leading just 17-10 at intermission.

The Cats have a number of Florida skill players to be concerned about. Kadarius Toney hauled in six receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown, putting him at over 500 receiving yards for the season so far. Tight end Kyle Pitts is expected 

He’s not the only player to keep an eye on in this explosive Gator offense; tight end Kyle Pitts, who’s one of the best players in the country, is expected to return from injury and suit up. Wide receiver Trevon Grimes is also capable of making huge plays down the stretch.

Running back Malik Davis is a threat in the passing game out of the backfield as well, as he has caught 18 receptions for 287 yards this season.

Kentucky’s schedule from last week to now is the hardest of anyone’s in the country over that stretch. Having to battle two playoff contenders on the road is something any team will have a hard time with.

The Cats may have no have anything to lose heading to the Swamp this weekend, but Florida does. A win would be shell-shocking to the Gators’ playoff chances, and potentially the biggest of the year across college football.

Kentucky is in the mood to spoil someone’s year. We’ll see if they can at 12:00 on ESPN.