While The Swamp has been given plenty of praise over the last few weeks for its rambunctious and intense environment, it isn't the only place in the SEC that provides that sort of atmosphere.
For the No. 10 Florida Gators (3-1, 1-1 SEC), they'll face its toughest challenge of the year, going on the road to face the Kentucky Wildcats (4-0, 2-0) in Lexington on Saturday. Traveling to The Big Blue Stadium will give onlookers a very good view of how Florida stands up against some of the toughest opponents within the SEC.
On Monday, Gators head coach Dan Mullen spoke about the upcoming challenge that Florida has in store for itself on Saturday, something that will be a challenge for his football program this season.
"First conference road game, going into a tough environment against a very good football team. Always kind of tough battles, very physical games when you're playing Kentucky," Mullen said.
"Any time you're in the SEC you get these stretches of big games, and we're in the middle of one of these stretches of big games going back-to-back-to-back-to-back. So it'll be a great challenge for our guys."
The Gators have played an SEC opponent in both of the last two weeks, defeating Tennessee last week, while narrowly losing to Alabama the week prior. Against Kentucky, the team will face off against an opponent they've played close in two of the last three times the teams have matched up.
While Florida defeated Kentucky last season in Gainesville, it'd take a come-from-behind rally from Florida to defeat them in 2019, the same game that featured a breakout performance from former Florida QB Kyle Trask, who would go on to become one of the best quarterbacks in Florida football history.
Currently undefeated at 4-0, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops has grown the football program into legitimacy, no longer considered simply a basketball school, the Wildcats appear to be on the rise again, and Mullen has taken notice.
"They have experience, a lot of veterans on the team. But he’s done a great job of building the program with the identity. They’re going to be a big, physical defense. Then they have a strong running game that is complemented by play-action pass," Mullen said of Kentucky and Stoops.
"When you play them with that identity that’s who they are and he’s been really successful with that. I always give Mark a lot of credit. I think he’s built a program the right way and it shows with their consistency with how they’ve won the last several years.”
But ultimately, this will be a chance for the Gators to give some of its younger players the experience and opportunity to play in a hostile environment, something that they'll have to deal with throughout their careers at Florida and within the SEC. The team has seen what it's like to have the home crowd on its side, now they'll face it from the opposite direction.
"That’s why you want to play in this league though. You want to go in front of these environments where everywhere you go it’s a packed house, sold-out stadium. That’s part of being in the SEC that makes it fun.”
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