LEXINGTON, Kentucky (Ticker) -- Kentucky's defense held Florida in check in the first half. Shutting down the Gators for 60 minutes is another matter.
Rex Grossman threw four touchdown passes as second-ranked Florida pulled away for a 44-10 victory over the Wildcats in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.
"We played pretty well," Grossman said. "At times, we were able to march right down the field and score. Other times, we would make some mistakes, like a couple fumbles and bad passes."
Following last week's postponement against Tennessee, Florida (3-0, 1-0 SEC East) looked sluggish early, but Grossman sparked the Gators, completing 22-of-36 passes for 302 yards and no interceptions.
"Rex is struggling a little and he's still learning," Florida coach Steve Spurrier said. "I didn't call a lot of plays today. He hesitated at times and threw some late ones."
But the sophomore already has tossed 10 TD passes this year. He joined Shane Matthews as the only Florida quarterbacks to throw for more than 300 yards in three straight games.
"We were definitely tested today," he said. "It was 13-3, the crowd was in the game and we kind of woke up and said that we had to get going. We went to work and were able to score quickly a couple times."
Florida, who led only 16-3 at the half, also took advantage of several Kentucky mistakes to beat the Wildcats for the 15th straight time.
Despite the slow start, the Gators held a 565-288 advantage in in total yards.
Trailing 6-3 in the second period, Kentucky appeared to turn away the Gators, but Anthony Wajda's interception in the end zone was negated due to Jeremy Bowie's holding penalty.
Two plays later, running back Robert Gillespie scored on a six-yard swing pass to make it 13-3 with 9:48 left in the half. Jeff Chandler booted a 39-yard field goal as time expired.
In the third, Gillespie was stopped for no gain on 4th-and-1 from the Kentucky 29, but an illegal substitution penalty kept Florida's drive alive.
Grossman found tight end Aaron Walker for a 22-yard gain down to the 2. After Rob Roberts was stopped for a two-yard loss on first down, Grossman hit Jabar Gaffney over the middle to make it 23-3 with 3:27 left in the third.
"We got a lot of opportunities, thanks to our defense," Spurrier said. "If they make some first downs at times, they're right in the ballgame."
Kentucky (1-2, 0-1) tried to rally as Shane Boyd tossed a two-yard TD pass to tight end Chase Harp with 1:30 left in the quarter, but Florida erupted for 21 points in a 10-minute span.
The Gators answered Harp's score in just over a minute, taking a 30-10 lead on Earnest Graham's 50-yard TD run with 28 seconds left in the period. Graham paced Florida on the ground with 86 yards on 11 carries.
The Gators put away the contest on Grossman's 52-yard TD strike to Gillespie with 8:47 remaining.
With the contest out of reach, Spurrier benched Grossman for Brock Berlin, whose first pass was a 64-yard TD to Reche Caldwell. Berlin was 3-for-3 for 95 yards.
"They are a fine football team," Kentucky coach Guy Morriss said. "They're talented and they have a lot of depth. They force you into mistakes. When you play those kind of teams, every little thing is magnified."
Grossman and Berlin spread the wealth around, completing passes to eight receivers. Gaffney grabbed six passes for 80 yards and Caldwell had five receptions for 105 yards.
"We had a slow start in the first half," Graham said. "I'm not sure why we were so sluggish. But the important thing is we came out strong in the second half. I talked with Robert on the sidelines and we just agreed that we had to go out and make some big plays."
Boyd completed 23-of-39 for 203 yards. Kentucky was held to just 85 yards on the ground, led by Martez Johnson, who gained 49 yards on nine carries.
Florida opened the scoring on Grossman's 29-yard TD pass to Gaffney with 9:47 left in the first quarter. Kentucky got on the board on Stephen Scaldaferri's 41-yard field goal 22 seconds into the second quarter.