In response to Hurricane Ian, the Florida Gators saw their week five contest against Eastern Washington move back 24 hours from Saturday to Sunday at noon ET.
Due to the circumstances, Florida football fans may be lost on which channel(s) or games they should pay attention to during the full slate of Saturday contests.
As a result, All Gators examines three games of interest for Gators supporters — or even football fans in general looking for intriguing matchups — in the three major time slots (noon, 3:30 and 7:30) from the Florida-less Saturday schedule.
No. 7 Kentucky at No. 14 Ole Miss: Noon ET - ESPN
The early slate of contests on Saturday possess little intrigue for those watching with orange and blue tinted glasses on, although football fans in general may take comfort in knowing there are some upset potential matchups from varying conferences like No. 4 Michigan at Iowa and No. 18 Oklahoma at TCU.
However, one contest in the early window stands out above the rest as a cross-divisional showdown of SEC opponents takes place when No. 7 Kentucky and No. 14 Ole Miss square off in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
But, the top 15 bout is a testament to where the Southeastern Conference stands in the grand scheme of college football at the moment, given the status of historically mediocre programs elevating for a crucial early-season bout.
They sit as two of the seven ranked teams in the SEC heading into week five.
The visiting Kentucky Wildcats proved that their hot start to the season is no fluke when they walked into Gainesville and took down the then No. 12 Gators in the second game of 2022.
They’ve won using an almost perfectly balanced attack offensively while allowing just 13 points per game defensively.
Lane Kiffin and the Rebels, on the other hand, get their first real test after cruising through their first four contests of the season by a combined score of 164-40.
The Ole Miss offense, led by USC quarterback transfer Jaxson Dart, has embraced a full reconstruction following the explosiveness through the air that Matt Corral provided in the past few seasons.
Looking to the ground attack with a two-headed monster in Quinshon Judkins and Zach Evans — ranked No. 2 and No. 4 in the SEC for rushing yards this season respectively — Kiffin’s offense continues to tick at a high level.
They rank as the best rushing attack in the SEC as a result, averaging just over 280 yards per game.
The outcome will be predicated on which team controls the game from a rushing standpoint.
With the Wildcats returning lead ball carrier from a season ago Chris Rodriguez Jr. — who served a four-game suspension to start the year — Kentucky gets back a crucial dimension to a methodical offensive style.
The winner in rushing yards will likely reign victorious, keeping themselves afloat in the race for Atlanta in their respective division.
No matter the outcome, this is the marquee noon game.
No. 22 Wake Forest at No. 23 Florida State: 3:30 pm ET - ABC
Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
Moving away from the SEC at 3:30 for another top 25 showdown, Gators fans should wander over to ABC to watch that team in Tallahassee take on Wake Forest.
The Seminoles are operating at a rate unforeseen to this point under head coach Mike Norvell, but they stare the most daunting opponent to date in the face in week five.
Even then, the resume that Florida State has built to this point is raising eyebrows as they climb their way back into the AP Top 25 this week after a substantial hiatus from the polls.
They’ve taken down the likes of LSU, Louisville and Boston College to assert themselves as potentially in the midst of the long-awaited program turnaround.
Wake Forest is the first test in a grueling three-week stretch of contests with Clemson and NC State to follow.
Just one week removed from a double overtime thriller that resulted in a loss to No. 5 Clemson — one in which the Demon Deacons offense led by quarterback Sam Hartman posted 447 total yards and 45 points — Dave Clawson and Wake Forest are looking to rebound against FSU.
However, the matchup is not the walk in the park that the past few seasons may have indicated when the schedule was first released. With Jordan Travis playing the best football of his career and the running back group performing at a near-elite level, a Wake Forest defense gashed by Clemson a week ago is looking at another tough task.
For the Gators, not only does this contest build for the annual end-of-season bout between the in-state rivals, but has more at stake given the current fire the Noles are playing with. In-state recruiting implications are at stake to be exact.
If the Seminoles are able to knock off their first ranked opponent of the season in the Demon Deacons, it would largely solidify that the Noles best start to a season since 2015, when they started the season 6-0, is no fluke.
In return, that creates an added recruiting pitch to top in-state talent to join a program with evidence of a potential meteoric rise back to the top of the college football landscape in the coming seasons.
At the very least, even if that description is a bit overdramatized (while the core of the message still stands) the game gives Florida fans a common rooting interest: against Florida State.
No. 1 Georgia at Missouri: 7:30 pm ET - SEC Network
This late slot contest is the biggest game of intrigue in regard to what Florida has coming up.
It won’t contain the same level of competition, with the top-ranked Georgia Bulldogs expected to continue its eight-game win streak over the Tigers with a convincing victory after sputtering at points against Kent State in week four.
But, both Missouri and Georgia are on the Gators' schedule in October. Fans can get a head start on what to expect when Eli Drinkwitz’s squad heads to Gainesville for homecoming weekend on Oct. 8 and in the annual matchup of the Gators and the Dawgs in Jacksonville for Billy Napier’s first appearance in the World’s Largest Cocktail Party.
From getting blown out on the road in Manhattan (Kan.) against Kansas State in week two to fumbling the game away (literally) on the road against Auburn in week four, Missouri has found ways to lose this season.
They’re performing as a bottom-of-the-barrel SEC squad alongside Vanderbilt, which should be a welcomed sight for the Gators in week six as they gear up for a three-game stretch of LSU, Georgia and Texas A&M in the weeks prior.
There’s not much Missouri is doing well this season.
As a result, any sliver of competition with Georgia — the reigning national champion that hasn’t lost a step so far this season — would be surprising.
That doesn’t mean Florida fans can’t watch to see how the Tigers operate.
More importantly, the contest will be a testament to where Georgia should be come Halloween weekend. Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett is uplifting the offensive attack this season after it served as a complementary group to arguably the best defensive unit in college football history in 2021.
His performance is a drastic improvement from even his best a season ago, earning him whispers of potential Heisman contender status. That could mean trouble for the Gators in a few weeks, given what just happened with Hendon Hooker.
The Georgia-Missouri game shouldn’t be much of a battle, but for those curious as to what Florida will be facing in the coming weeks, this is the one earning the nod in the nighttime slot.
If it turns into a blowout (which it likely will), tune into No. 5 Clemson at No. 10 NC State on ABC.
That game should be a fun one.
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