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For just the fourth time in 73 meetings, Florida and Kentucky will face off with both teams ranked in the AP Top 25.
Florida is coming off an impressive win over a top 10 team in Utah, while Kentucky arrives at its first true test of the season.
Kentucky Wildcats running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. (24) runs with the ball during the Verb Citrus Bowl against the Iowa Hawkeyes Jan. 1, 2022, at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.
(David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The Wildcats will have to upset No. 12 Florida on the road without star running back Chris Rodriguez Jr,. who will miss his second consecutive game as he awaits a ruling on an “NCAA matter,” according to ESPN.
Kentucky is hoping to receive an answer on Rodriguez by next week but will be without the SEC’s third-leading rusher from the 2021 season Saturday.
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“There’s layers to this that I’ve been advised I can’t comment on it,” Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops said. “It’s not that I’m trying to hide things from you, but the players have rights and things of that nature with this situation.”
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops fist bumps wide receiver Tavin Richardson before Kentucky’s 27-16 win at Florida in 2018.
(Alex Slitz/Herald Leader/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Rodriguez Jr. is expected to miss at least three games, according to ESPN. Kentucky plays Youngstown State in Week 3.
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The Wildcats’ rushing attack struggled in Week 1 against Miami (Ohio), rushing for just 50 yards on 26 carries. Stoops told reporters after the game that the offense was focused on the passing game during Kentucky’s 37-13 Week 1 win.
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“We made a conscious effort to throw the football today,” Stoops said, according to Sports Illustrated. “I think you saw that even at the end. You know what I mean? So really wanted to work on things and get better.”
Kentucky Wildcats running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. on the sidelines during a game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Kroger Field in Lexington, Ky., Nov. 6, 2021.
(Brian Simms/Lexington Herald-Leader/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Senior running back Ramon Jefferson tore his ACL in Week 1 and will miss the rest of the season, hurting Kentucky’s depth at the position.
“I have yet to be anywhere where I’ve gotten through a season without having (running) back injuries,” Kentucky offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello said, according to the Louisville Courier Journal. “It’s just the nature of the position, the physicality of what we ask guys to do. You got to be ready for it. Next man up, and the cool thing is we built a deep room for this reason.”
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The Gators allowed 230 yards rushing against Utah in Week 1.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
Joe Morgan is a Sports Reporter for Fox News.