LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Timing, in college football, is everything. How you feel about Kentucky’s chances against No. 10-ranked Georgia in Athens, Georgia, on Saturday depends largely, most likely, on where you think the Bulldogs stand psychologically after last week’s upset loss to South Carolina.
Kentucky could benefit from a deflated Georgia team whose national ranking tanked and whose College Football Playoff chances took a hit from the loss. Or, the Bulldogs could bounce back with a vengeance, realizing that they still have a strong chance at the playoffs if they win the Eastern Division of the Southeastern Conference and are impressive the rest of the way.
In either event, Kentucky will look to break a nine-game losing streak to Georgia when the teams meet Saturday afternoon.
A few items to set the stage:
1). Time: 6 p.m. EDT, Sanford Stadium, Athens, Ga.
2). Where to watch: ESPN (Jason Benetti, Rod Gilmore, Quint Kessenich). Where to listen: WHAS 840 AM or XM Channel 387 (Tom Leach, Jeff Piecoro, Dick Gabriel).
3). Line: Georgia by 25 (Open: Georgia by 25. Max spread: Georgia by 25). Over: 46.5.
4). Scouting Georgia: It may not be the best time to play the Bulldogs, who suffered an upset loss to South Carolina last week despite being a 21-point favorite. Even so, Georgia’s playoff hopes remain intact if they can win the SEC East and turn in a strong performance in the SEC Championship game. In fact, even after the loss Georgia’s playoff odds at SportsBetting.ag remained lower than seven undefeated teams. Georgia is one of the most balanced teams in the country, ranking 10th nationally in total offense and 12th in total defense. Quarterback Jake Fromm is 28-6 as a starter and is completing 70% of his passes this season. He has a deep receiving corps that includes eight players who have caught at least nine passes this season. Defensively, Georgia has 29 players who have recorded a tackle for loss this season, and 11 players who have collected a sack.
5). Scouting Kentucky: Kentucky finally got the ship righted last week with a win over Arkansas after starting the SEC season with successive losses to Florida, Mississippi State and South Carolina. Wideout Lynn Bowden Jr. stepped into the quarterback role last week and led the Wildcats to a game-winning fourth quarter TD drive after some shaky moments early. Bowden ran for 196 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the 24-20 win over Arkansas but completed just 7 of 11 passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. Kentucky coach Mark Stoops says his team will have to be more balanced on offense this week, which means he could turn to regular backup quarterback Sawyer Smith, who moved into the job when regular starter Terry Wilson suffered a season-ending injury. Smith has been out with an injury of his own but returned to practice this week, according to coaches.
6). Spotlight player: Regardless of position, if Kentucky is to put together an upset bid, it’ll be behind the play of Bowden, who will need to get touches against a stingy Georgia defense.
7). Sideline storyline: Stoops’ quarterback decision this week will be an interesting one. The player he picks may tip his hand toward the direction he wants to take the rest of the season – though it could also be just a one-game deal, given that the Wildcats should be favorites in the rest of their games despite being a prohibitive underdog against Georgia.
8). Fan tip: Georgia has won nine straight games in the series. Kentucky is 3-25 against the Bulldogs when Georgia is ranked. The Wildcats’ last win against a ranked Georgia team was in 1988.
- BOZICH & CRAWFORD | Against the Spread -- Week 8 features major underdogs
- CRAWFORD | If he wants it, Kentucky's QB job should belong to Bowden
- BOZICH | Lynn Bowden Jr. saves the game -- and Kentucky's season
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