LEXINGTON, Ky. — The streak now extends to 25 and counting.
No. 15 Florida walked out of Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday night with a 48-10 victory, its 25th consecutive over Kentucky. Equally as important, the Gators overcame some adversity — the loss of their starting quarterback for a portion of the game — showing resiliency during their first road game of the season.
Florida (4-0, 2-0 SEC) now will prepare for the toughest part of its schedule, beginning Saturday at home against No. 3 Alabama.
"I was real pleased to get the victory on the road," Florida coach Will Muschamp said. "Twenty-six players of the 70 we traveled had never been on the road in the SEC. I'm very pleased with how we responded in the game."
The Gators got a taste of what life would be like without starting quarterback John Brantley, who left the game late in the second quarter after taking a shot to the upper body.
Freshman Jeff Driskel struggled, committing two turnovers in two possessions. His fumble led to a touchdown that pulled the Wildcats (2-2, 0-1) within 31-10 with 1:18 left in the first half.
"Jeff's got to play. It's a long season," Muschamp said. "We've got to get Jeff ready to play in the game. In this league, it's tough to have one guy go through the whole season. I felt like we made the right decision (putting him in), although it was not the right result."
Brantley, who was 8-of-14 for 115 yards, returned for the third quarter and is expected to play against the Crimson Tide.
"(The hit) was just right in the midsection, and it knocked the breath out of me a little bit," Brantley said. "It hit me in the right spot. I wasn't really concerned because I knew how I was feeling. They just wanted to be sure."
After relying mostly on running backs Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps for its offensive production during the first three weeks of the season, the Gators got more from others. Florida's first score came on a 45-yard pass from Brantley to tight end Gerald Christian with 8:10 remaining in the first quarter.
"I knew it was going to come (more from other players). I wasn't worried about that," Christian said. "I just waited for my time, and when it came, I just wanted to take the opportunity and make the best of it."
Said Muschamp: "We had our vertical passing game (produce), and we'll continue to work on that."
During the first 24 wins, Florida outscored Kentucky 292-80 in the first quarter and scored at least 14 points in each of the past five games. Saturday, Florida scored 21 first-quarter points and did not trail from there. Since 2008, the Gators have outscored the Wildcats overall 94-3.
Ultimately, Florida's rushing game led the way again. It had 405 yards, and Rainey and Demps combined for 262 and two touchdowns. Demps' performance was highlighted by an 84-yard touchdown 4:36 into the third quarter. Junior Mike Gillislee (six carries for 84 yards) added a 60-yard touchdown with 7:44 remaining in the game.
And while the offense rolled up the yards — and points — Florida's defense was solid. For the past two weeks, Muschamp lamented the lack of turnovers. Against Kentucky, Florida forced four that led to 24 points and allowed 299 total yards.
"I'm pleased with the turnovers and being able to run the football," Muschamp said. "I understand this is a line of scrimmage league, and you've got to be able to do that as we move forward. We're 4-0, pleased with where we are.
"But we've got a lot of things we still need to improve on."
Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]