University of Florida

The Gators are hoping to extend one of the NCAA’s longest winning streaks against a team

Vosean Joseph #11 of the Florida Gators and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson #23  celebrate a defensive stop during the game against the Charleston Southern Buccaneers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 1, 2018 in Gainesville, Florida.
Vosean Joseph #11 of the Florida Gators and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson #23 celebrate a defensive stop during the game against the Charleston Southern Buccaneers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 1, 2018 in Gainesville, Florida. Getty Images

The last meeting between these two teams came down to one play.

Florida receiver Freddie Swain stood in the Kentucky end zone uncovered as Gators backup Luke Del Rio caught sight of him.

With fling of his wrist, Del Rio sent the ball soaring through the air toward Swain for the game-winning touchdown with 43 seconds left to play.

It was a 28-27 victory for the Gators despite being one of the worst games they’ve played against the Wildcats.

No. 25 Florida will hope for a similar outcome but a better performance this year as it welcomes the Wildcats to the Swamp on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. for its 2018 SEC opener.

The Gators’ 31-game winning streak against Kentucky is the fourth-longest in an uninterrupted series in NCAA history, and it’s the longest active win streak of one FBS program over another.

But the Gators’ focus heading into Saturday’s game is on everything but that streak.

“I don’t know what that has to do with the game this week” Florida coach Dan Mullen said. “Our guys didn’t have a whole lot to do with that.”

Most of them weren’t even alive when the streak started, as the Gators’ commanding run against the Wildcats dates back to 1986.

Mullen would rather focus on growth when his team takes the field for its second game of the season.

“You want to see huge improvement from Week 1 to Week 2. We’re out of training camp, we’ve got a game under our belt,” he said. “Now let’s make some huge strides during practice week, during our preparation in everything we do.”

Not much changed on the Gators’ depth chart from the first week outside of kicker Evan McPherson being declared the starter after a solid performance against CSU. So many guys will get to the chance to show they worked on the little things that went wrong in the team’s 53-6 thrashing of Charleston Southern last Saturday.

“Well definitely tackling. There’s always a little bit more to be a better tackler. Just continue playing with a lot of energy,” cornerback Marco Wilson said about where to improve. “When we get into these SEC games, I’ll see a lot more and see what we’re really about.”

There’s no doubt that UF and UK are two teams that know each other quite well.

“They play a lot of Cover 3, stuff like that. I played them twice so I’m very familiar with what they do,” receiver Tyrie Cleveland said.

Cleveland believes the Gators’ receiving core has everything it needs — size, quickness and power — to be successful against the Wildcats’ tall defensive backs.

And the three-down defense is something that offensive line coach John Hevesy isn’t too worried about, given its a scheme that the team went over during fall camp.

“We’ve got to be able to pull things from camp. They line up the same way, they play differently,” Hevesy said. “So being able to use those base things and make the adjustments for what they’re going to bring.”

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