No. 10 Florida's SEC East hopes all but disappear with loss at Kentucky

·3-min read

Kentucky's win over No. 10 Florida was a once-in-a-lifetime achievement for the entirety of the UK roster.

The Wildcats beat the Gators, 20-13, to score the school's first win over Florida at home since 1986 when Kentucky beat Florida, 10-3.

Florida had won 16 consecutive games at Kentucky between then and Saturday night. But Kentucky took the lead in the third quarter after Trevin Wallace returned a blocked field goal 78 yards for a touchdown. 

The extra point was no good, and that loomed large as Florida had the ball for its final drive. Needing only a touchdown and an extra point to tie, the Gators got to the Kentucky five with less than a minute left but went backward after that. The Gators got back to the eight on fourth down but Emory Jones' pass fell incomplete after it was deflected at the goal line. 

Florida went backward near the end of the game because of yet another false start. The Gators committed a whopping eight false starts during the game. Florida was penalized 15 times for 115 yards while Kentucky was penalized just four times. 

Florida's dwindling SEC East hopes

The Gators' chances of repeating as SEC East champs are very slim after the loss. No. 2 Georgia beat Arkansas 37-0 at home and looks like it could go 12-0 in the regular season. Florida now has losses to No. 1 Alabama and Kentucky. 

That means Georgia has to lose to Florida and to another team while Florida goes undefeated the rest of the season for the Gators to get back to the SEC championship game. And that's not even counting Kentucky, a team that's now positioned to be the prime challenger to Georgia in the East. The Wildcats now have an effective three-game lead on the Gators in the case of a head-to-head tie between the teams. 

Florida entered the season as the clear No. 2 team to Georgia in the East. And it's hard to see how the gulf between the two teams is narrow, even after Florida's two-point loss to Alabama earlier this season. 

What's Kentucky's ceiling?

Saturday night wasn't the prettiest win when you look at the box score. Kentucky benefitted from Florida's penalties and had just 224 total yards. QB Will Levis was just 7-of-17 passing for 87 yards and a TD and an interception while Chris Rodriguez had 19 carries for 99 yards and a score. Wan'Dale Robinson had four catches for 65 yards and one of those catches went for 41. Levis' six other completions went for just 46 yards and no player outside of Robinson had more than a single catch. 

Kentucky even seemed to recognize that the win wasn't a gorgeous one.

Yet it was still a brutally effective win. Kentucky isn't going to beat teams through the air. Robinson provides an aerial threat that defenses have to account for while Rodriguez has rushed for at least 99 yards in all of Kentucky's games vs. FBS opponents this season. 

Can Kentucky get to 10 wins? It’s not a crazy question even if “yes” is still an unlikely answer. Kentucky’s toughest games remaining are at home against LSU, at Georgia and at Mississippi State over the next four weeks. Kentucky probably won’t get through that stretch unscathed, but if UK is 6-2 at the end of November it can start to dream big with games against Tennessee, Vanderbilt, New Mexico State and Louisville in November.

A 10-win season would likely be good enough for a New Year’s Six bowl game and would be the program’s second 10-win season in four seasons under Mark Stoops. UK had won 10 games just twice in 97 years before Stoops arrived.

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