Now that I am done defending my BlogPoll ballot like Albert Brooks defending his life, it is time to get back to the business at hand. I have already provided a glance at the passing game, so we turn now to the respective running games of Saturday's combatants. As always, when we here at Dawg Sports delve into the numbers, we don't just give you a little information, or even the right amount of information; no . . . we give you Too Much Information.
Over the course of the season, the Bulldogs' and the Wildcats' respective ground games have been fairly evenly matched. Georgia has tallied nine more rushing attempts than Kentucky (381-372) and gained 28 more yards (1,743-1,715). Both teams average 4.6 yards per carry and the Classic City Canines' 174.3 rushing yards per game work out to about an extra eight and a half feet per game more than the Bluegrass State Felines' 171.5 yards per contest on the ground.
Although the 'Dawgs and the 'Cats have been on equal footing where rushing yardage is concerned, Georgia has held the upper hand when it comes to scoring, as the Red and Black have tallied 23 rushing touchdowns to the Blue and White's 18.
Moreover, the Bulldog ground game has been waxing. In the debacle in Knoxville, Georgia gathered just 69 rushing yards, 30 of which could be claimed by Knowshon Moreno. Since then, the trend has been in the right direction, as the 'Dawgs collected 167 rushing yards against Vanderbilt, 196 against Florida, 240 against Troy, and 180 against Auburn. (The Gators and the Plainsmen, by the way, are the league's second- and third-best defenses against the run, respectively.)
During that four-game span, Moreno has carried the ball 109 times for 642 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 160.5 rushing yards per game and 5.9 yards per carry. Moreno and his teammates will be going up against a Kentucky rush defense ranked tenth in the S.E.C.
The Wildcats surrender 197.3 rushing yards per outing and the 4.7 yards per carry Kentucky concedes match almost exactly the 4.6 yards per carry the Georgia offense amasses. Although it is somewhat troubling that the Bulldogs' and the Wildcats' respective defenses each have given up 15 touchdowns on the ground, the Red and Black should be successful at shutting down the U.K. rushing attack.
The 'Dawgs allow only 126.9 yards per game on the ground and opposing offenses average just 3.6 yards per carry against Georgia. In their last four games, the Wildcats have averaged 3.0 yards per carry against L.S.U., 2.8 against Florida, 3.3 against Mississippi State, and 3.5 against Vanderbilt. Those same teams averaged 5.2, 4.6, 3.9, and 5.0 yards per carry, respectively, against U.K.
With Moreno maturing and Thomas Brown now back in the mix, the Georgia running game is peaking, which should pay big dividends on Saturday. The Wildcats, in the meantime, have been held in check by rush defenses less adept than that fielded by the Bulldogs, as both Mississippi State and Vanderbilt---ranked eighth and sixth in the S.E.C., respectively, against the run---succeeded in slowing down the U.K. running game.
There is, however, more to football than just running the ball and throwing the ball, so we will take a gander at those other aspects of the game in our next installment.