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Florida Gators vs. Kentucky Wildcats Odds & Game Pick (2021)

by September 29, 2021
Emory Jones

Kentucky enters this game on top of the SEC East at 4-0, but the elephant in the room is a stretch that sees them face Florida, LSU, and Georgia in consecutive weekends. A week three loss to Alabama has erased Florida’s margin for error. The Gators still control their destiny in the SEC East, though losing this week could make it very difficult to view this season as a success. Florida holds a dominant overall record in this series, 53-18, and Kentucky’s win in 2018 was the first time they beat the Gators since 1986. 

These teams do not hold out much love for each other, and the last several in the series have been entertaining, but where do the betting plays lie? 

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Details

  • Opening Line: Florida -8.5, O/U 55.5
  • Current Line: Florida -8.5, O/U 55.5
  • Last meeting: November 28, 2020, Florida 34, Kentucky 10

Overview 

Mark Stoops has re-energized Kentucky’s role in this rivalry since taking over in 2013. Between 2014-2020 the average margin of victory was 11.5 and moves to 6.2 if you remove a 38 point Florida margin in 2016. Most of these meetings have been close, though Kentucky has found a way to lose disappointingly. Kentucky has leaned heavily on the run game, with RB Chris Rodriguez Jr. placing 5th in the nation on the 31st ranked rush offense. Penn St transfer QB Will Levis and Nebraska transfer WR Wan’Dale have added to the versatility of a unit that ranks 60th in passing ypc and 59th at 31 points per game. A significant concern is turnovers; Kentucky’s average margin of -2.25 per game ranks 129th out of 130 teams.

The team has been stout on the defensive side, ranking 9th in total defense and 28th in scoring, allowing 17.75 ppg. Linebacker J.J. Weaver has recovered from an ACL injury suffered last year against Florida and is a standout. The 2020 All-SEC Freshman team performer leads the team with four sacks. His position mate DeAndre Square leads the team in tackles at 25, though he could face some team imposed missed time due to his unnecessary shove of an equipment manager that went viral following the South Carolina game.

Florida seeks to exceed Kentucky’s vaunted rushing attack, with a rush offense that sits 3rd in the nation at 322.5 yards per game. The attack comes from all sides. Five players have exceeded 100 rushing yards on the season. The primary leaders are QBs Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson, who have totaled 651 yards between them on the ground. Jones has shown a propensity to turn the ball over when the team does pass, with five interceptions on the season and despite a 9th ranked total offense in yardage, the Gators only rank 35th while scoring 36 points per game.

Perhaps a product of already facing Alabama, Florida’s defensive numbers are not quite as favorable as Kentucky’s. The Gators rank 44th in the nation while allowing 19.75 points per game and 62nd in total defense at 347 ypg. DE Zachary Carter has been a standout in totaling four sacks. Still, this defense has struggled to create turnovers, and the result has them as only slightly better than Kentucky at 108th nationally.

Trends 

  • Over their last 20, Florida is 15-5 ATS
  • Kentucky is on a six-game SU win streak, with their previous loss coming against Florida
  • Both teams are trending UNDER; Kentucky has gone under in 13 of 19 against SEC opponents while 5 of Florida’s last 6 SEC East games have gone below the number.

Bottom Line 

Both these teams want to run the ball, which presents an exciting matchup of complementary styles. They each have problems with turnovers when the ball hits the air. Given Stoops’s history in this rivalry game and Dan Mullen’s tendency to let up if the team gains a lead, expect a close, entertaining contest.

Pick: Kentucky +8.5

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College Football, Picks