Florida at Kentucky Prediction - College Football Picks 9/30/23
Kentucky Wildcats (4-0) vs Florida Gators (3-1)
Game Info: Saturday, September 30, 2023 at 12:00 pm (Kroger Field)
Betting Odds: Kentucky Wildcats -1.5 -- Over/Under: 47.5 Click Here for the Latest Odds
Where to Watch: ESPN Stream live sports and exclusive originals on ESPN+. Sign up now!
The Florida Gators will head up to Lexington to face the Kentucky Wildcats in SEC play this weekend from Kroger Field on ESPN. These two southern states have crossed paths in each season since 1948, with Florida holding a lopsided 53-20 series lead, but Kentucky has managed to win the last two contests, including a ten-point victory in the Swamp last season, 26-16.
Florida Gators Preview
Florida moved to 3-1 after defeating Charlotte in Gainesville, 22-7. The Gators weren’t able to put many points on the board, but they shut the 49ers down defensively, and they’ll look to win a fourth straight game this weekend. The UF offense is scoring 27.8 ppg, while passing for 247.8 ypg, rushing for 164.8 ypg, and converting 33.3% of their third downs.
Florida Player Notes
• Graham Mertz played well despite the underwhelming final result, going 20/23 for 259 yards with a touchdown toss. The former Wisconsin QB has avenged the season-opening loss to Utah by delivering winning football in three straight contests, but he will now face another stiff road test here in the Bluegrass. Mertz has passed for 951 yards, with four touchdowns to one interception, and two scores on the ground thru four starts.
• Montrell Johnson Jr. and Trevor Etienne split the work again for the Gators this season. Etienne went off for a career-high 172 yards in the win over Tennessee, and he leads Florida with 329 rushing yards on 49 touches. Johnson Jr. led the way with 63 yards in the win over Charlotte, and he totaled 211 yards and three scores on the ground this season.
• Senior wideout Ricky Pearsall provided a memorable moment with one of the best catches we’ve seen in a while, and after surpassing the 100-yard mark for the second time this season, he leads UF in receptions (26) and receiving yards (362).
• The Florida defense has allowed 18.5 points per game.
Kentucky Wildcats Preview
Kentucky comes in at 4-0 after defeating Vanderbilt in Nashville, 45-28. The Wildcats jumped out to a massive 24-0 lead, then cruised to multi-score victory over the Commodores, and they’ll now look to face their first ranked opponent of the season this Saturday. The UK offense is scoring 38.0 ppg, while passing for 265.0 ypg, rushing for 131.5 ypg, and converting 47.5% of their third downs.
Kentucky Player Notes
• Devin Leary’s first taste of SEC action delivered mixed results, as he led UK to a victory over Vandy, but he only went 15/29 for 205 yards, with a touchdown and a pair of picks. The former N.C. State QB has Kentucky where they expected to be through four weeks, but after turning the ball over in each contest so far, he’ll have to be sharper against the toughest defense he’s faced yet. Leary has passed for 1,060 yards with nine touchdowns to five interceptions this season.
• Senior back Ray Davis scored twice against his former school last weekend, and he leads the team in rushing yards (314), with 137 yards receiving and seven total touchdowns (5 rush, 2 rec).
• Kentucky carries a nice trio of wideouts in Tayvion Robinson, Barion Brown, and Dane Key. Robinson had a quiet game last weekend, but he leads UK in receptions (16) and receiving yards (283). Brown and Key had strong freshman seasons, and the former led the way with 105 yards on the win over Vandy, while the latter found the endzone, and is third on the team with splits of 13/196/2.
• The UK defense has allowed 15.5 points per game.
Florida vs Kentucky Trends
• UF is 1-3 against the spread, with a 0-3-1 O/U record.
• UK is 3-1 ATS, with a 2-2 over/under record.
Corey’s Free Pick
Mark Stoops and the Kentucky program have used this matchup to catapult themselves in each of their last two seasons, and after watching Florida struggle to score in three of their first four games, the hosts are going to have a chance to remain undefeated. This should be a hard-hitting contest that will likely be won in the trenches, so the defenses will play a huge role in who goes on to take this matchup. Now, with this being UK’s first real test, I feel more a conservative approach coming from them here at home, so let’s test the Under for this SEC matchup.