The Georgia Bulldogs will be looking to move on from last Saturday’s debacle against the Auburn Tigers with a solid performance at home against the Kentucky Wildcats, a game that will start at 7:00 p.m. and will be televised on ESPNU.
This matchup for the Bulldogs will be one that the fans will remember for quite some time, as it will be the last home game for the Class of 2014. Among them is quarterback Aaron Murray, the former Plant High School standout who has set numerous school and SEC records in his time with the Bulldogs, including career touchdown passes and career passing yards. Murray has solidified himself among the best quarterbacks that have ever graced the field inside Sanford Stadium, and while his senior season has not been as exciting thanks to the team’s numerous injuries, you can bet the 92,746 on hand in Athens will send Murray out on the right note on Saturday.
While the game will certainly have sentimental value to those who will not suit up for another game in Athens, it is important to keep in mind that although Kentucky sits at 2-8, the players will certainly come into the showdown with an upset on their minds. The Wildcats put a scare into the Vanderbilt Commodores last week before the ‘Dores blew the door open in the second half, and even though the Wildcats lost the game 22-6, it showed that they are not simply giving up from the get go.
In order for the Bulldogs to kill Kentucky’s chances in this contest, the Georgia defense must force the Wildcats into passing situations. Although the offense as a unit certainly has been a disappointment in 2013 (ranks 104th in the nation with 349 yards per game), the true weak point has been the air attack, which is only providing 191 yards per game. In charge of this element of the offense is sophomore Jalen Whitlow, who threw four interceptions in what was a very rough outing against Vandy last Saturday.
On the season Whitlow has 1,033 passing yards with 5 touchdowns and 5 interceptions (UK has also played Maxwell Smith at QB), showing clearly that he has struggled in adjusting to the style needed for the Wildcats to thrive. The Wildcats will more than likely rely on running back Raymond Sanders and Whitlow’s running ability to keep up with the Bulldogs, but if Georgia is able to execute on offense and put Kentucky in a hole early, it could be another blue day for the team that hails from the Bluegrass State.
It may appear that the Bulldogs should be able to control Kentucky’s defense in any manner that choose on Saturday, but the fact of the matter is that the key to the Dawgs getting the “W” lies in the rushing attack. Kentucky has been surprisingly impressive against the pass, ranking 43rd in the nation with 218 yards per game, but embarrassingly inept at stopping the run game, displayed by the team’s 92nd spot in FBS with 192 yards on the ground per outing. Fans and analysts alike witnessed how more powerful this Georgia offense is when sophomore tailback Todd Gurley is on the field and effectively utilized by offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, and the thinking has to be that he will get his fair share of carries and catches on Saturday. If the Georgia running backs top 120 yards on the ground, you can bet that Georgia will grab its seventh victory of the season.
Game Preview: The future certainly looks bright for Kentucky thanks to Mark Stoops, who is building the foundation for a good defense and is recruiting extremely well, but the potential of this squad will not make a difference on Saturday. The Wildcats do force Georgia to punt on their first two possessions of the game, much to the chagrin of those dressed for the Bulldogs’ “Blackout”, but this is the extent of Kentucky’s highlights on this night. Georgia takes control thanks to great games from Murray (228 passing yards with 2 TDs and 1 rushing TD) and Gurley (106 yards and a touchdown) and impressive play from the Dawgs’ defense. Georgia moves their record to 7-4 and prepares for another edition of Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate against Georgia Tech. Final Score Kentucky Wildcats 14, Georgia Bulldogs 38