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Planning for success: Kentucky

There was no point in denying it, so Mark Stoops came right out and admitted he is anxious to see his Kentucky Wildcats play Florida on Saturday.

"Yeah, it's a measuring stick for us," he said during his weekly news conference on Monday.

It would be easy to say that Stoops is playing with house money now that his Cats are 2-0 for the first time since 2011 and have already matched their win total from last season.

The second-year coach has energized the UK fan base with an exciting offense and two first-half shutouts on defense this season. And, Stoops has maintained the recruiting momentum he generated last year.

These are all rare accomplishments in the Bluegrass State. But beating Florida? Well, that would be historic.

The Wildcats haven't done it since 1986, back when a gallon of regular gasoline cost 89 cents, postage stamps were 22 cents, and a dozen eggs cost 87 cents.

Kentucky has lost 27 consecutive games to Florida, the FBS' longest active streak in an annual series.

None of the players in Saturday's game were alive the last time UK beat UF, so naturally both coaches are downplaying the streak as any sort of factor.

"I really don't think we need that motivation," Stoops said. "If it does to some individual players, that's fine. I'll let them read that, but it's not something I want to put in front of them.

"We're pretty motivated to get out there and play well and to try to get a win."

Said Florida's Will Muschamp on Monday: "It’s a 2014 Florida team versus a 2014 Kentucky team, and that’s all it is to me."

To the Wildcats players, Saturday's game against the Gators is a prime-time chance to measure their progress against SEC competition.

Senior defensive end Alvin Dupree said back in July that he expected Kentucky to be unbeaten going into its Week 3 matchup.

"It will be a great opportunity for us to start telling people, 'Wake up, Kentucky is knocking on the door now,'" he said. "[Florida] is a great program. But it really doesn't matter if it was South Carolina the first game or LSU. Whoever we have the first SEC game, I really want to win -- not just from a team standpoint but for the whole program.

"To win an SEC game, something we haven't done in two years, would be tremendous. It would be a stepping stone for the rest of the schedule."

And a stepping stone for the program.

With a very young roster, Stoops is looking forward to the trip and the challenge of playing in the Swamp in front of 90,000 fans and an SEC Network audience.

"It's a great venue, obviously one of the best venues in college football," he said. "You'll probably hear me say that every road game in the SEC. But it's a great place, a great atmosphere. Very passionate fan base.

"It will be a real challenge. It's certainly not easy. It will be really good for us to see where we're at."

In describing the importance of the game, those were the words Stoops used over and over: We'll see where we're at.

Sure, Kentucky's first two home games were satisfying for the players and fans. Sure, the running backs have totaled 466 yards this season, and QB Patrick Towles has passed for 547 yards thus far. Sure, they outscored their opponents by a combined 79-17. But those numbers came against Tennessee-Martin and Ohio.

"We all know we're in for a higher level of competition," Stoops said of the looming Florida test. "We're excited about that. The players will be excited, the coaches, so we'll see where we're at this week."

So will the rest of the SEC.