Gainesville, Florida - After a record-breaking 2007, Tim Tebow has not put up the gaudy numbers most expected this season and Florida's high-octane offense got off to an uneven start, but they overpowered one of the nation's top teams their last time out.
Kentucky is very aware of how potent Tebow and the Gators offense can be.
Following a bye week, Tebow and fifth-ranked Florida look to build off a big victory and extend their winning streak over the Wildcats to 22 games when the SEC foes meet Saturday at The Swamp.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Florida –24.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 51% of bets for this game have been placed on Florida –24.5 (View College Football bet percentages).
Last season, Tebow became the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy as he threw for 32 touchdowns and ran for 23 - the first player in NCAA history to have at least 20 TDs passing and rushing in the same season.
The Gators (5-1, 3-1) were the third-highest scoring team in the FBS in 2007 (42.5 points per game), but they had not been scoring as frequently through their first five games in 2008 (36.0 ppg). They scored at least 40 points in only one of those contests after doing so eight times last year.
Florida appears to have put to rest any question about its inconsistent offense with a 51-21 victory over then-No. 4 LSU on Oct. 11.
The Gators, who jumped six spots in the AP poll with the win, outgained the Tigers 186-4 in the first quarter to build a 17-0 lead.
Tebow, who had eight touchdowns passing and two rushing through five games, might have put himself back in the Heisman mix with his performance against a Tigers defense which had been allowing 15.3 points and 260.1 yards per game. He finished 14-of-21 for 210 yards with two touchdowns and ran for a two-yard score.
"Tim hit some plays," Gators coach Urban Meyer said. "I think (the offense) had an edge about them because they did not play well early in the year. Statistically, they were all right. But we didn't feel like the offense that everyone expected, including our players. Tim played very well."
Tebow had one of the best games of his career against the Wildcats (5-2, 1-2) last season. He completed 18 of 26 passes for 256 yards and a career-high four touchdowns, and also ran for 78 yards and a score in then-No. 4 Florida's 45-37 victory at then-No. 8 Kentucky.
Florida has won 21 straight over the Wildcats since a 10-3 loss in Lexington on Nov. 15, 1986, and 14 in a row against them in Gainesville since a 31-3 loss on Nov. 17, 1979.
Kentucky, which is 3-24 in this series when the Gators are ranked, has not defeated a top 10 opponent on the road since beating No. 4 Penn State 24-20 in 1977.
The Wildcats hope the league's top-scoring defense (11.9 ppg) - one that has forced an SEC-best 20 turnovers - can slow down Tebow and company.
"We know how good of a team Florida is," Kentucky coach Rich Brooks. "They are a team that has as much speed and talent as any team in our conference. They have playmakers on offense, and they really got on track against LSU."
Kentucky is coming off a 21-20 comeback victory over Arkansas last Saturday, as quarterback Mike Hartline and freshman wide receiver Randall Cobb connected for two touchdowns in the final 4:15 of the game.
The Wildcats, who outscored the Razorbacks 21-3 over the game's final 20 minutes, gained 372 yards last week after averaging 247.0 in losing their first two conference games.
"It just shows us that is how we are capable of playing," said Hartline, who threw for 239 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions last week. "We just have to play for the whole 60 minutes. It's strange because once we get our momentum going on our offense and when we pick up the tempo as far as going downfield, it seems that we play better."
Kentucky's offense took another hit, however, as running back Derrick Locke, who has rushed for a team-high 303 yards, is out for the year with two torn ligaments in his leg. This injury happened a week after top receiver Dicky Lyons Jr. sustained a knee injury that ended his college career.
"This will be a big challenge for us to go on the road and try to get something going offensively," Brooks said.
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
FLORIDA is 8-8 against the spread versus KENTUCKY since 1992
FLORIDA is 16-0 straight up against KENTUCKY since 1992
4 of 7 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
FLORIDA is 1-1 against the spread versus KENTUCKY over the last 3 seasons
FLORIDA is 2-0 straight up against KENTUCKY over the last 3 seasons
1 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at FLORIDA since 1992
KENTUCKY is 5-3 against the spread versus FLORIDA since 1992
FLORIDA is 8-0 straight up against KENTUCKY since 1992
2 of 3 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at FLORIDA over the last 3 seasons.
KENTUCKY is 1-0 against the spread versus FLORIDA over the last 3 seasons
FLORIDA is 1-0 straight up against KENTUCKY over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
[CB] Paul Warford will miss entire season - Eligibility - 08/07/08
[SS] Ashton Cobb missed last game, "?". - Suspension Served - 10/07/08
[DL] Josh Minton missed last game %27?%27 - Knee - 10/04/08
[DT] Ricky Lumpkin limited last game, probable. - Ankle - 10/06/08
[LB] Micah Johnson missed last game, downgraded to doubtful. - Ankle - 10/
[LB] Michael Schwindel is expected to miss. - Shoulder - 10/07/08
[RT] Justin Jeffries is out indefinitely. - MCL - 09/30/08
[OL] Jess Beets downgraded to expected to miss. - Knee - 10/07/08
[WR] Randall Cobb limited last game, probable. - Ankle - 10/06/08
(!) [QB] Curtis Pulley has been dismissed from the team. - Disciplinary -
[WR] DeMoreo Ford injured last game, downgraded to doubtful. - Shoulder -
[WR] EJ Fields is out indefinitely - Hamstring - 09/07/08
[RG] Stuart Hines downgraded to out indefinitely. - Knee - 10/07/08
[RB] Emmanuel Moody missed last game, downgraded to doubtful. - Ankle - 10
[RB] Kestahn Moore missed last game, upgraded to probable - Hamstring - 10
[WR] Percy Harvin is probable. - Ankle - 10/07/08
[TE] Cornelius Ingram is out for the season. - ACL - 08/09/08
[OL] Jim Tartt missed last game %27?%27 - Shoulder - 10/04/08
[OL] Jim Barrie expected to miss entire season - ACL - 08/12/08
[OL] Marcus Gilbert missed last game, upgraded to probable - Ankle - 10/06
[DT] John Brown is out indefinitely. - Hand - 09/17/08
[DT] Omar Hunter is expected to miss. - Ankle - 10/09/08
[LB] Dustin Doe missed last game, downgraded to doubtful - Hernia - 10/06/
[LB] Ryan Stamper missed last game, upgraded to probable - Ankle - 10/06/0
[LB] Brendan Beal is expected to miss entire season - ACL - 08/12/08
[S] Dorian Munroe expected to miss entire season - ACL - 08/07/08
[SS] Will Hill missed last game, upgraded to probable - Ankle - 10/06/08
[DL] Brandon Antwine missed last game %27?%27 - Back - 10/06/08
Did you like this article? Subscribe to our College Football news feed for the fastest updates delivered right to you - Click here to Subscribe
Posted: 10/21/08 3:55 PM