Entering the regular season, this game isn’t necessarily one we would have circled as one of the most highly anticipated matchups of Week 10. However, that’s exactly what we have here, as this contest between the #6 Georgia Bulldogs and the #9 Kentucky Wildcats serves as a de facto SEC East division title game.
Georgia was expected to be one of the top teams in the nation, and the club has lived up to its billing with a mark of 7-1. As for 7-1 Kentucky, let’s just say they are one of the more surprising stories of 2018. This isn’t just a situation in which the clock hasn’t struck 12 just yet, as the Wildcats have some serious chops on defense.
The two schools are tied for first place in the SEC East with marks of 5-1 in conference play, ahead of the second place Florida Gators, a team which is currently ranked #11 in the nation. Both Georgia and Kentucky have already vanquished the Gators, so the winner of this one has a clear path to the SEC title game.
This contest gets the SEC Game of the Week treatment on CBS, which means it will be broadcast to a national audience in the late afternoon window. Let’s take a look at a game which should be a dandy in full detail.
Georgia @ Kentucky, 3:30 PM EST, CBS
- Georgia -9 (-110)
- Kentucky +9 (-110)
- Georgia -350
- Kentucky +290
- Over 43.5 (-120)
- Under 43.5 (+100)
Georgia vs. Kentucky pick:
The Bulldogs enter this one off a big win over rival Florida, which came on the heels of a disappointing loss to LSU. Prior to that setback, Georgia was steamrolling the competition while racking up six straight wins. For the season, Georgia is averaging 38.6 points per game while giving up 16.4
As per usual, the Bulldogs strength on offense comes on the ground, but this year’s squad can get it done through the air when the situation warrants it as well. While the defense has been solid on an overall basis, Georgia just isn’t generating much in the way of pressure. On the season, the defense has only generated 10 sacks, 12 touchdowns, and one defensive score.
Sophomore Jake Fromm has had himself an efficient season behind center, completing 67.4 percent of his passes for 1,659 yards, 16 TDs, and four picks. Sophomore D’Andres Swift and junior Elijah Holyfield – the son of former World Heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield – have formed a solid one-two punch in the Bulldogs backfield. Junior wideouts Riley Ridley and Mecole Hardman have been leading the way for the pass catchers.
Looking ahead, the Bulldogs close out the regular season with games against Auburn, UMass, and Georgia Tech. The club still has a shot at a berth in the College Football Playoff, but another loss would extinguish those dreams. The squad’s crushing loss to LSU seemed to serve as a wake up call of sorts, and they should have little trouble being properly motivated for this tilt.
In the second week of the regular season, Kentucky slayed the dragon known as Florida, a program which had tortured the Wildcats with 31 straight wins. It looked like it was just a nice aside to the early part of the season, but it turned out to be the starting point for Kentucky to build off of.
The club would win another three in a row before finally dropping a game to Texas A&M, and they followed that up by winning another two in a row. That includes last week’s last second win over SEC rival Missouri. In short, Kentucky is no fluke. On the season, the team is averaging 25.6 points per game while giving up just 13.
Offensively, the Wildcats lean on the run, while the defense has been showing strength against both facets. Kentucky is having much more success generating pressure than this week’s opponent. Through eight games, the Wildcats have generated 22 sacks and 12 turnovers.
Sophomore QB Terry Wilson has the keys to the offense, and he has produced eight total touchdowns and six picks. Wilson has only thrown for 988 yards, but he has also 406 yards on the ground. Junior RB Benny Snell Jr. has the backfield on lockdown, as he has delivered an impressive line of 179/935/9. Sophomore Lynn Bowden Jr. is the top option in the passing game, as he has hauled in 43 balls for 457 yards and three scores.
Looking ahead, Kentucky closes out the regular season with games versus Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, and Louisville. While the team’s season is arguably already a success, it would be a big disappointment if the Wildcats don’t finish strong. As a constant also ran in the SEC, the squad needs to seize the day and make some noise while it has the chance.
The past decade of meetings between these two schools have not been kind to Kentucky. Georgia holds a 9-1 edge straight up and a 6-4 mark against the spread. The over has come out six times over that span. Last season, Georgia rolled to a 42-13 win in a game in which they were favored by 22.5 points. The projected total was set at 48.5 points for that tilt.
This year’s matchup projects to be tighter and potentially lower scoring, as Georgia is a 9-point favorite with a projected total of 43.5 points. Despite the matching records, Georgia still stacks up as the superior squad on paper. That said, Kentucky has demonstrated they are far from a pushover, especially defensively.
Assuming they can at least hold the Bulldogs offense somewhat in check, the question becomes whether or not the Wildcats can get anything done on offense. Georgia is allowing 140.5 rushing yards per contest – 44th in the nation – so Kentucky at least has a shot at making something happen via the strength of its offense.
In the end, an upset of Georgia may be too much to ask. However, there’s no reason Kentucky can’t keep this one incredibly interesting until the latter stages of the game, and we think they’ll do just that.
We’ll take Kentucky plus the points.