Florida vs. Kentucky kicks off this Saturday at 12:00pm EST in Lexington as a home game for the Wildcats. Kentucky is currently a -2.5 favorite and -140 on the moneyline while the total is set at 44.5. Read on for more Florida vs. Kentucky best bets and predictions as the Wildcats look to secure their third win in a row in this heated rivalry.
Florida Vs. Kentucky Prediction & Best Bet
This Saturday at noon EST features another installment in the heated rivalry between the Florida Gators and Kentucky Wildcats. With many expecting Florida to fold over after a lackluster offseason, they have shocked the nation by going 3-1. Graham Mertz has revitalized his career in his new setting, starting off the year throwing for a respectable 951 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception.
Not exactly world beating numbers, but he has been good enough to keep Florida competitive. It’s their defense that has really carried the brunt of their success, ranking an outstanding third in Overall Def Success Rate and 33rd in Opposing Points per Opportunity. That defense was on full display when they held the high-powered Tennessee offense to a lowly 16 points.
While those defensive numbers have been impressive, they have one major flaw and that may end up being the reason they lose a third one in a row to the Wildcats. Florida may excel at limiting opposing short game consistency, but they are very susceptible to giving up the big play. The Gators rank dead last in Def Overall Explosiveness, 133rd in Def Rush Explosiveness and 119th when defending the pass.
While banking on a team to exploit the big play is never ideal for concrete success, Kentucky’s massive advantage in this department cannot go unnoticed. Their offense ranks second in the nation in Rush Explosiveness and 17th in Pass Explosiveness. A boom or bust type of scheme as their Success Rate numbers are below average in both the pass and run.
As for the defense, Kentucky ranks well across the board and will be more than capable of limiting the Florida offense. Especially with Mertz’s tendency to play conservative, struggling to connect on any sort of big play. This allows Kentucky’s secondary to tighten up, forcing Mertz to throw into tight windows and capitalize on his history of turnover worthy throws. By giving their offense ample opportunities to take advantage of Florida’s stalled out drives, Kentucky will be in a good position to secure the win for the third year in a row.
Florida Vs. Kentucky Prediction & Best Bet: Kentucky -2.5
Florida Vs. Kentucky Betting Odds
While Florida’s shocking start to the season has been a welcoming sight to see, oddsmakers believe it’s time for a reality check by opening the Wildcats as a slight favorite. Bettors are in agreement as they have bet Kentucky up from -1.5 to the key number of -3. Their ability to stall out the Florida defense and flip the field position with their own big play potential gives me enough conviction that this is their game to lose, making them a play at -3 or better.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a moderate pace as oddsmakers opened the number at 47.5. Bettors believe points will be scored at a lot slower pace, taking the number down to as low as 44.5 in some shops as of writing. That comes as no surprise as both defenses excel at limiting opposing Success Rate, bringing in a higher chance for early outs and stalled out drives on their own end.
Florida Vs. Kentucky Key Matchups
Can Ray Davis find success on the ground to open up the field?
Ray Davis Vs. Florida’s Rush Defense
When going up against one of the more stout defenses in football, it will be crucial for the Wildcats to find success on the ground in an effort to open up passing lanes on the outside. Kentucky’s Devin Leary is a capable passer but would greatly benefit from more open passing lanes instead of trying to weave the ball through a tight window.
Vanderbilt transfer Ray Davis scores against his former team to give Kentucky a 21-0 lead 🏈pic.twitter.com/ftrzFVYOuz
— 247Sports (@247Sports) September 23, 2023
That’s where Ray Davis comes in, Kentucky’s running back who has been a monster in the backfield. He has run for 314 yards and five touchdowns to start the season, needing every bit of that production against Florida’s front seven. Kentucky boasts one of the better offensive lines in football, negating the push back on the line and creating gaps for Davis to exploit.