When do you call a game a must-win game? Because a case can be made that this weekend's showdown between Georgia and Kentucky is a must-win game for both teams, though the chances of that changing Kentucky's status as a steep underdog are small.
For Georgia, of course, this is the chance for the Bulldogs to finally and forcefully close a painful, almost four-year long odyssey that began as dashed hopes of a national title, snowballed into loud calls for head coach Mark Richt's job and seemed to dead-end with the 0-2 start to this season. Instead, Georgia now stands on the cusp of its first division title since 2005, though it does so under extremely favorable circumstances.
For Kentucky, an unprecedented streak of postseason play is on the line. The last time Kentucky didn't play in a bowl was the same season that Georgia did play in the SEC Championship season. Point out the lowered bar for teams in general and SEC teams specifically to get into a bowl all you want -- that's still a pretty impressive accomplishment for Rich Brooks and Joker Phillips in a place like Lexington.
And while a few months ago it looked like this might be one of the make-or-break games for Mark Richt, it has now undoubtedly become a make-or-break season for Joker Phillips. Lose this one and the Wildcats have seven losses and are definitively out of a postseason that few have expected them to make since the sluggish opening night victory against Western Kentucky. Mike Leach is not going to be unemployed forever, and it would be hard to blame the Big Blue administration if they get itch trigger fingers watching other schools dismiss their head coaches.
But the same thing that has led to Georgia's eight-game winning streak and Kentucky's dreadful slog through the season simply continues Saturday. I'm not sure I see the Bulldogs covering the spread -- they've only scored more than 30.5 points total against a BCS opponent three teams this season, and failed to top 27 against an even worse Ole Miss team -- but it will be close.
Georgia 37, Kentucky 7