The No. 19 Florida Gators (3-1, 2-0 SEC) return home this week to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks (3-2, 0-1 SEC) this Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game will be televised on ESPN2.
Florida is coming off a 24-7 win against the Kentucky Wildcats. Arkansas fell last week to No. 10 Texas A&M by a score of 45-33.
This is the first meeting between these teams since 2009. Florida leads the all-time series 8-1 and has won each of the last eight meetings, including a 23-20 win in 2009.
Here are a few things to keep an eye on throughout the game.
Protecting Tyler Murphy
Arkansas bolsters one of the best pass-rushing units, not just in the Southeastern Conference, but also in the entire country, posting 15 sacks on the season thus far. Arkansas senior defensive end Chris Smith leads the SEC in sacks with six. Fellow defensive end Trey Flowers has chipped in three sacks of his own, along with two forced fumbles. Florida’s offensive line has only given up five sacks on the season, including just one since Murphy has taken over at quarterback. However, they could have their hands full Saturday night. Murphy is making just the second start of his career. It will be up to the Gators’ offensive line to keep the quarterback upright.
Arkansas’ running game
Led by true freshman Alex Collins and sophomore Jonathan Williams, Arkansas features the second best rushing attack in the SEC at 237 yards per game. Collins has been sensational, rushing for 597 yards, good for 119.4 yards per game, which is second in the conference behind only South Carolina’s Mike Davis. For comparison, Florida running backs Matt Jones and Mack Brown have combined for just 517 yards. Florida’s defense held Kentucky to 48 yards on the ground last week, but the Razorbacks will present a slightly tougher challenge.
The last time these two teams met, the difference in the game was a Caleb Sturgis field goal with :09 remaining. Florida’s special teams has been up and down thus far, with inconsistencies from kicker Austin Hardin and punter Kyle Christy. Hardin is just 4-for-7 on field goal attempts this season, although, head coach Will Muschamp did praise the redshirt freshman for his four touchbacks against Kentucky last week. Christy, a preseason All-SEC selection, has struggled this season averaging just 39.5 yards per punt. In a game that has the potential to be close, strong special teams play could always turn out to be the difference.
Florida 20, Arkansas 10