Game Day Preview: What you need to know about Kentucky-UGA
Two teams — different struggles.
This matchup between Kentucky and UGA on Saturday has the potential to be a turning point in either of their seasons, but for different reasons. While still in good spirits, the Wildcats are in the midst of a three-game losing streak that they desperately need to snap as they continue to make a push at bowl eligibility. Two games will get them there. The Bulldogs have also dropped three of their last four, but more detrimental to the program are the rumors swirling regarding internal discourse. A win at home could give UGA much needed confidence heading into the season’s final stretch. Buckle up fans, anything can happen.
Here’s what else you need to know about Saturday’s game:
Kentucky Wildcats (4-4, 2-4 SEC) at UGA Bulldogs (5-3, 3-3 SEC)
Kickoff: Sat., Nov. 6, noon ET (SEC Network)
Weather: 74 degrees, 60 percent chance of rain (weather.com)
Line: UGA -14.5 per BOVADA
By the numbers
94 – The number of points Kentucky has relinquished over its last two games. The defense gave up a season-high 42 points to Mississippi State on Oct. 31, only to establish a new season high a week later by giving up 52 to Tennessee.
4 – Of the 33 matchups the Wildcats have played at UGA, Kentucky has won just four. In the all-time series, UGA leads 54-12-2 after the Bulldogs easily won the last game, 63-31. Kentucky is looking for its first win at UGA since 2009.
10 – The Wildcats have 10 players that hail from the state of Georgia.
Storylines to watch
Will the skid end here?
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops has said several times in the last few days that he’s been pleased with the way practice has gone this week. The Louisville Courier-Journal’s Kyle Tucker recorded Stoops’ press conference Thursday, when Stoops said that he’s always one for honesty and that he wouldn’t be afraid to shoot the media straight if practice had in fact been unproductive. But Kentucky’s preparation for this matchup hasn’t just been in practice. It’s important to remember that while yes, Kentucky has lost three straight, the three losses have all been to strong programs: Auburn, Mississippi State and Tennessee. The Wildcats lost to Auburn by just three points, and these three teams are certainly matchups that can prepare Kentucky for a struggling UGA team. Kentucky hung right in there with Auburn, shouldn’t they be able to do the same with UGA?
How does Kentucky make up for the loss of Boom Williams?
Kentucky’s sophomore running back sustained an elbow injury last weekend against Tennessee and was expected to be week-to-week. Williams flirted with a quicker recovery but Stoops said Friday that Williams will not play against UGA. Williams is the Wildcats’ leading rusher, averaging 80.4 yards per game on the ground. His replacement Saturday, Mikel Horton, averages just 26.8. But both have three rushing touchdowns and Horton is coming off a stellar showing against Tennessee. Horton ran for 109 yards against the Vols, averaging 7.8 yards per carry. Kentucky will need a similar performance out of him this weekend.
Capitalizing on a vulnerable UGA squad
UGA’s drama isn’t a secret, but Stoops said Thursday that he doubts his players know what’s going on down in Athens, Ga. This weekend’s tickets are the cheapest of the season at Sanford Stadium, suggesting that fans are either losing interest, overlooking Kentucky or both. This would be a perfect time for the Wildcats to pounce on a squad that is already at its most vulnerable point of the season — especially if Kentucky takes an early lead.
Preparing for UGA’s quarterback
With so much quarterback turnover recently, preparing for one specific UGA quarterback is a luxury the Wildcats have not been granted this week in practice. Faton Bauta made his first career start last weekend, but likely won’t get the starting nod Saturday. Greyson Lambert and Brice Ramsey are both options. The Kentucky defense, which has undoubtedly had its struggles this season, will have to find a way to adapt quickly.
Prediction UGA 28, Kentucky 17
The Wildcats could cash in on UGA’s drama, but without Boom Williams that’s going to be difficult. UGA also knows it’s time to get recollected and go win a game that it’s highly favored to take. Regardless of what’s going on, the Bulldogs will stay composed enough to redeem themselves here — some could say this is a must-win for them.