Kentucky vs. Florida Betting Odds, Picks: Back Underdog in Low-Scoring Divisional Matchup
Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images. Pictured: Kentucky quarterback Will Levis.
Kentucky vs. Florida Odds
-105o / -115u
-105o / -115u
A summertime conflict between Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari and Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops erupted on which sport Kentucky best represents.
If the Wildcats can upset Florida in Week 2, Lexington will keep all eyes on the gridiron and not the upcoming midnight madness tip. Despite multiple suspensions that may linger into this week, Kentucky found a groove against Miami (Ohio) in the season opener.
Florida, meanwhile, won its first game under Billy Napier in a marquee showdown with Utah. The Gators were explosive and cashed on their limited attempts into scoring position. Consistent pressure from the defense resulted in turnovers that assisted Florida in the win.
The Wildcats and Gators are in a battle royal with Tennessee to determine a true contender to Georgia, as this game determines which SEC East team will be dumped over the top rope.
Running back Chris Rodriguez was not eligible for the first game against Miami (Ohio), but backup Kavosiey Smoke anchored a rushing attack that averaged just 1.9 yards per carry.
Smoke created three missed tackles in seven rushing attempts, averaging 3.7 yards after contact. The minimal ground game was enough to allow quarterback Will Levis to operate in passing attempts.
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) September 4, 2022
Levis targeted 12 different players, but none were more important than slot receiver Tayvion Robinson. With an average of 22 yards per reception, Robinson was targeted twice as often as any other option.
Levis finished off the Miami (Ohio) defense with three touchdowns and an interception. A closer look at the numbers shows more turnover-worthy plays than big-time throws.
The Kentucky defense continues to bring a lunch pail mantra, creating four tackles for loss and three sacks. The Wildcats posted one of the highest tackling grades from a national level.
Kahlil Saunders produced three pressures from the edge position, as an opening touchdown by the RedHawks would be their only trip to the end zone of the day.
Anthony Richardson continues to be electric.
Although the quarterback failed to log a big-time throw against Utah, his activity in scrambles and designed rushing attempts kept the Pac-12 defense on its heels.
With two explosive runs and three rushing touchdowns, any team that struggles to tackle in space will have trouble containing Richardson.
This angle of Anthony Richardson’s 2-point conversion last night is UNREAL 🔥 pic.twitter.com/V1h5SN04hy
— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) September 4, 2022
With Heisman odds rapidly moving up the board, the question remains if any team can force Richardson into passing downs. Florida had the 12th-highest rate of standard downs in Week 1, a characteristic carrying over from Napier’s time calling the Louisiana offense.
The Kentucky defense must be prepared not only for the scramble but also execution against misdirection. The Florida offense executed in play action and screens with a combined 9-for-11 effort against Utah.
The Gators defense did enough to win the game against an offense that lit up the Rose Bowl last January. Both Gervon Dexter and Brenton Cox Jr. combined for eight tackles and four pressures, but Utah marched the field on seven drives that eclipsed the Florida 40-yard line.
The Utes managed just 3.5 points per trip in scoring opportunities. Florida’s red-zone defense then ended the game.
Amari Burney picks off Cam Rising to seal the game 🏈pic.twitter.com/K4sfqysTlG
— 247Sports (@247Sports) September 4, 2022
Utah was methodical in sustaining drives but was limited in explosive plays on the ground and through the air. The Florida defense showed up when it counted, posting a top-20 rank in limiting standard downs explosiveness.
Kentucky vs. Florida Betting Pick
Stoops continues to make changes in the offensive trench after an ineffective run game and unexpected pressure on Levis against a defensive front from the MAC.
Levis was sacked four times, and Miami (Ohio) also added four tackles for loss.
Kenneth Horsey will move from left guard to left tackle after not allowing a pressure in 24 offensive snaps. The move pulls David Wohlabaugh out of the tackle rotation after he allowed five pressures. Firming up the tackle position should result in a cleaner pocket for Levis and additional yards on zone run attempts.
Slot coverage will be of the utmost importance for the Florida defense, as Levis is expected to rely on Robinson in the quick passing game.
Utah elected to target right inside linebacker Amari Burney on eight passing attempts with plenty of success. Burney allowed six receptions with an average of 13.7 yards per catch. With an unexplosive running game that doesn’t feature Rodriguez, attacking the linebacker unit through the air will provide the most success for Kentucky’s offense.
The biggest wild card in this game is the Wildcats’ ability to tackle Richardson. Kentucky posted one of the highest tackling grades in the nation, a defensive trait that carries over season to season.
After sitting two games due to injury, Richardson was limited against Kentucky last season. The freshman quarterback created just one missed tackle and gained just 25 yards on five designed run attempts.
The Action Network projection makes this game Florida -2, as the market has adjusted Kentucky for the losses of Rodriguez and linebacker Jordan Wright. However, Wright is now expected to play, so there should be a bump in the market on the Kentucky number.
With Jordan Wright back, the linebacking core will be at full strength on Saturday. Two deep at all four positions down in the Swamp.
— BBN Tonight (@BBNTonight) September 8, 2022
With offensive line modifications, there’s an expectation that the run game and pass protection will improve. Mother Nature may also play a role with rain expected in the second half in the Swamp.
Look for this game to be a grind on both sides, as Kentucky excels defensively in stopping the explosive play while providing elite tackling.
The Wildcats offense will search for a consistent rushing game behind a modified offensive line. If they don’t find it, Levis will be dependent on attacking the linebackers through the slot.
A point spread of Florida -6 represents a buying price on Kentucky. But the better bet comes on the under as Florida continues its red-zone defense while the Wildcats eliminate explosiveness from the Gators offense.