In a battle of SEC East foes that started fast and have slumped recently, the Kentucky Wildcats (4-4, 2-4) will travel to face the Georgia Bulldogs (5-3, 3-3) with both teams looking for a win Saturday afternoon. Georgia has won five straight meetings and eight of the last 10 matchups; that includes a 63-31 road win as a 10 point favorite in the most recent matchup on November 8, 2014.
Kentucky started 4-1 but has dropped three straight, including a 52-21 demolition by Tennessee at home Saturday. Georgia started 4-0 and has dropped three of four, including a 27-3 demolition by Florida in the latest edition of the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. This game kicks off at 12:00 pm ET from Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia and will be televised on the SEC Network. Georgia is currently a 14 point favorite with the over/under set at 58 points in this contest.
Kentucky has backslid in the past three games as they’ve allowed 124 points in that span. After trailing just 24-14 at the half, the Wildcats allowed four third quarter touchdowns to blow the doors off in the game. Kentucky was outgained 482-349 and allowed 21 first downs while picking up 18 of their own in the contest. Both teams committed a pair of turnovers but special teams let Kentucky down in the game; while Kentucky scored on a fumble return to open the scoring but allowed touchdowns on both a kickoff return and a punt return in the game.
The Wildcats are currently standing 48th in the nation in passing offense (244.5 yards) and 101st in the nation in rushing as they average 142.6 yards on the ground per game. Kentucky is scoring 24.3 points per contest, which is tied for 93rd in the nation in scoring offense; they are currently 83rd in the nation in scoring defense as they allow 29.1 points per game. Patrick Towles has completed 162 of 275 passes for 1,914 yards with nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions on the year plus 46 rushing yards and five scores. Drew Barker is the backup and has hit seven of nine passes for 42 yards and an interception. Stanley Williams is the team’s leading rusher with 85 carries for 563 yards and three scores; Jojo Kemp contributes 275 yards plus two scores on 62 carries and Mikel Horton has 52 carries for 214 yards along with three scores. Dorian Baker is the team’s leading receiver with 42 catches for 441 yards plus three touchdowns; Garrett Johnson (35 receptions, team high 562 yards, 2 TD), Jeff Badet (22 grabs, 325 yards, 2 TD) and Blake Bone (17 catches, 181 yards, TD) are other targets for Towles to look for in the aerial assault. Austin MacGinnis has hit 17 of 18 extra points and 11 of 13 field goals on the year with a long of 48 yards; Miles Butler is 4 of 5 on extra points while not attempting a field goal.
Georgia gave Faton Bauta his first career start under center and it went fairly predictably as the Bulldogs were stifled offensively. The Bulldogs were outgained 413-223, lost the first down battle by a narrow 15-12 margin and allowed Florida to control the clock as the Gators had the ball for 36:51 to Georgia’s 23:09 in the game. Georgia was also done in by five turnovers in the game while forcing only one; a fumbled punt return that was fallen on in the end zone for a Florida touchdown helped set the tone for a long afternoon.
The Bulldogs enter this game with a weakened offense as they are 86th in the nation in passing offense with an average of 206.4 yards per contest; Georgia stands 35th in the nation in rushing with 197.3 yards per game. Georgia is scoring 29.4 points per game, which is tied for 63rd in the nation as far as scoring offense; the Bulldogs are 28th in the nation in scoring defense as they allow 20.4 points per contest. Greyson Lambert was the starter all season before the Florida game; he has hit 100 of 156 passes for 1,276 yards with nine touchdowns and two interceptions. Brice Ramsey (16 of 27, 221 yards, TD, 2 INT) and Bauta (15 of 33, 154 yards, 4 INT) are in the mix as well. The Bulldogs miss Nick Chubb, who was hurt against Tennessee but still leads the team with 92 carries for 747 yards and seven scores. With Chubb gone, Sony Michel (102 carries, 553 yards, 4 TD) and Keith Marshall (36 carries, 195 yards, 3 TD) are seeing more action in the run game. When Georgia does throw the ball, Malcolm Mitchell leads the team with 39 receptions for 565 yards and four scores. Terry Godwin (21 receptions, 245 yards), Michel (18 catches out of the backfield) and Reggie Davis (12 grabs, 187 yards, TD) are secondary options in the passing game. Marshall Morgan has hit all 29 extra points and 10 of 14 field goal attempts with a long of 47 yards.
Georgia is 5-2 ATS in their last seven in November. Kentucky is 8-22 ATS in their last 30 conference games, 3-9 ATS in their last 12 after a straight up loss, 1-4 ATS in their last five against teams with a winning record, 1-7 ATS in their last eight in November and 0-4 ATS in their last four overall.
Both teams are desperate for a win in this one: Georgia has the wolves circling and howling for Mark Richt’s dismissal as head coach. Kentucky tends to struggle in conference play and things won’t work in their favor here either more than likely. The Bulldogs are a better team at home than the Wildcats are on the road; give the points here as Georgia just squeaks past the line.