BOZICH | Kentucky will be solid underdog against Louisville after blowout Georgia loss
After losing to Georgia, 42-13, Saturday in Athens, Kentucky must upset Louisville Saturday in Lexington to climb to the eight-win total this season.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — It turns out there will be plenty to squawk about when Louisville and Kentucky finish their college football regular seasons next Saturday at Kroger Field:
The Eight-Win Milepost.
The winner will get there. The loser will sag to 7-5. (Yes, I’m going crazy and assuming Louisville will close out its 49-3 lead against Syracuse.)
It’s not like fussing about a spot in the national playoff or an invitation to the Sugar or Orange bowls. But eight wins and the possession of the Governor’s Cup will have to do after Kentucky failed to topple No. 7 Georgia, 42-13, Saturday in Athens. Georgia played like the champions of the SEC East.
In a season when the Wildcats have been positioned to win nine games, this was not one of them. The Wildcats are parked at 7-4 and 4-4 in the Southeastern Conference. They did not look like a team primed to back up the victory they delivered against Louisville last season.
Georgia outgained Kentucky, 504-262. The home team pounded for 381 yards rushing, averaging 8.7 yards per carry.
UK halfback Benny Snell was limited to 94 yards on 22 carries, while quarterback Stephen Johnson completed only 12 of 22 throws for 138 yards.
According to Jeff Sagarin’s predictor ratings, South Carolina is the best team Kentucky has defeated this season. The Gamecocks are ranked 42. Louisville is ranked 10 spots ahead of South Carolina — so a victory against Louisville would be the biggest win by Mark Stoops’ team this season.
Remember: Last Tuesday in Las Vegas, Louisville was listed as a 6 1/2 point favorite over the Wildcats in the rivalry game that Kentucky won last season.
Sagarin’s formula also favors Louisville by 6.04 points, calculating the numbers posted before Saturday’s games.
Brian Edwards of VegasInsider.com said on Saturday that an adjusted point spread will be posted Sunday afternoon, after handicappers examine injury lists and analyze second-half play. But Edwards also said that considering the scores of the two games Saturday, he would not be surprised if Louisville was favored by 7 or 7 1/2 points.
On a mostly spectacular, 68-degree day in the heart of SEC country, it was fair to ask if this was the perfect time to play Georgia, a division rival the Wildcats have handled with more success than Florida or Tennessee
The Bulldogs were turned upside down by Auburn last week in a 40-17 defeat against the Tigers.. That knocked Georgia down six spots in the college football playoff poll, from first to seventh. Surely that had to be a discouraging development for Smart’s ambitious team, which aspires to replace Alabama as the king of the SEC.
Then, before the game you had to wonder if the news that Alabama, Clemson, Miami, Wisconsin and Auburn, five of the six teams ranked ahead of Georgia, had already won would also shake the Bulldogs’ focus.
Sure quarterback Jake Fromm threw an interception on Georgia’s first possession, a turnover the Wildcats eventually drove into the red zone but turned into only three points. But you need touchdowns, not field goals, to beat Georgia.
There was a dazzling 45-yard pass from Johnson to Blake Bone that immediately became a top candidate for the Top Reception by a UK Player this season. But Kentucky only squeezed three points out of that play, too.
By halftime the Wildcats had slipped behind 21-6. Fromm burned them with a touchdown pass but Georgia running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel ran like the best pair of backs in the game. Chubb finished with 151 yards and two touchdowns while Michel score three times while gaining 87 yards.
Kentucky did not start the second half backtracking. The Wildcats opened with a solid drive, scoring in 3 1/2 minutes on a powerful run by Snell, who has 16 touchdowns this season.
But Georgia has playmakers, too. The Bulldogs positioned themselves nicely with a 35-yard kickoff return — and needed only six plays (all runs) to navigate 60 yards, earning the touchdown on an 8-yard romp around left end by Michel.
Kentucky tried to respond with a gimmick, giving the ball to receiver Lynn Bowden and directing him to throw deep.
Georgia was not fooled. Aaron Davis intercepted the ball at the the Bulldogs’ 12. Again Georgia needed only six plays, this time to travel 88 yards for a touchdown that pushed the home team ahead, 35-13.
By then, only one question remained: Would Georgia cover the 21 1/2-point spread:
Yes, they did.
Now the question is: Can Kentucky deliver as an underdog Saturday in Lexington?
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