Game Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: SEC Network
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Odds: Georgia (-2.5) via OddsShark
Heading into Saturday’s matchup in Lexington are two teams who couldn’t have had more opposite performances last weekend. The Georgia Bulldogs managed to look disappointing once again, performing pitifully in a loss to Florida, while the Kentucky Wildcats’ offense came alive to defeat Mizzou.
The dichotomy between the two teams last week was great, but one could easily chalk that up to the level of competition each squad went up against. This week, however, the tone is being set for a matchup with crucial implications for both sides.
For Georgia, matchups with Kentucky are typically seen as predetermined wins. After all, in the hierarchy of SEC football, Georgia is far above Kentucky. They’re usually always able to handle the Wildcats (they haven’t lost to them since 2009). This year, however, the mood around this game is far different.
All of the momentum heading into Saturday night’s game seems to be behind Kentucky, a team that has rallied to go 5-1 since starting the season with two horrible losses. They’re a team that has racked up big wins over SEC opponents, and they’re certainly looking to notch two more against Georgia and Tennessee before the year is through.
As it stands, Kentucky has a tight grasp on second place in the SEC East; their hopes of making it to Atlanta might be slim, but they have not evanesced quite yet. The fact remains, however, that Kentucky must win these last two SEC games to have a hope of playing for an SEC title. Even then, it would take a couple of Florida slip-ups for that to happen. Regardless, Kentucky must do their part if they want to reap the rewards.
Georgia, however, is coming into this game a bit disillusioned, perhaps, as their first season with Kirby Smart at the helm isn’t going exactly as planned. The Bulldogs have lost four of their last five games, including a home loss to Vanderbilt. Georgia is in a rut, and a loss against Kentucky would only serve to sink their season even more. This is certainly more of a must-win game for them than it is for Kentucky.
If Kentucky is to pull off this upset, they must limit their turnovers. One of the biggest reasons why they allowed Mizzou to (somewhat) stay in the game last week was that they continuously turned the ball over. They did the same thing against Mississippi State. And against Alabama. And—well, you get the picture. They have the worst turnover margin in the conference, and it’s keeping them from reaching their full potential. I don’t care what their offense looks like on Saturday—if they turn the ball over like they have in previous weeks, they will lose to Georgia.
Now, Georgia has to focus solely on making sure that their offense—especially their run game—doesn’t look as lifeless as possible. For the past two weeks, Georgia’s offense has been fairly pathetic; that’s one of the main reasons why they couldn’t beat Florida last week. In that loss to the Gators, the Bulldogs managed to rack up only 21 rushing yards. I’m going to remind you that this is a Georgia team with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel just so that stat sinks in a bit more.
Honestly, I don’t believe that Georgia will have that difficult a time running the ball against Kentucky, and I don’t believe that Kentucky will be able to limit their turnovers. I do, however, believe that this game will be as close as the point spread indicates, ultimately ending with a Georgia victory that will demolish Kentucky’s SEC East title hopes.
Prediction: UGA 41, UK 37