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Too Much Information: Kentucky (The Passing Game)

Right about now, I'd expect you're looking for this week's edition of "Don't Bet On It!" in this space, but we're mixing things up here in Bulldog Nation, incurring celebration penalties on purpose, breaking out the historic black jerseys, crankin' dat Soulja Boy, and, son of a gun, having big fun between the hedges.

Contrary to what you may have been told, though, I do not have Kevin Bacon's mad dance skills.

Well, this week, we're leading off with the first installment of my regular breakdown of Georgia's upcoming opponent. Why? Because Saturday's showdown is a bigger game than its 12:30 kickoff time or the Bulldogs' 47-11-2 record against the Wildcats would suggest.

This weekend, the Red and Black cannot assure themselves of a B.C.S. bowl berth, nor can they clinch the Eastern Division championship without a little help from the Vanderbilt Commodores in Knoxville, but they can keep their hopes alive for each of those objectives.

Moreover, and more importantly, they can continue the momentum they have generated by demonstrating that the 'Dawgs no longer take weeks off. Even without bench-clearing end zone demonstrations and stadium-wide blackouts, this maturing team should be able to take care of business. If the Bulldogs can continue to combine energy with execution without needing any reason other than the fact that a conference contest is being played, this team truly could be on the verge of establishing itself as a permanent fixture in the upper echelons of the college football firmament.

Therefore, I am putting off this week's prognostications concerning other games until I am done previewing what is, quite frankly, the only game that ought to occupy the attention of any denizen of Bulldog Nation. Our focus shouldn't be on last Saturday's showdown in Sanford Stadium, nor should it be on what is scheduled to transpire in Neyland Stadium or in any other venue outside of Clarke County.

This is the game and what you need isn't a dab of data, nor a smidgen of statistics; what you need is Too Much Information.

Thanks to the internet, though, my weekly breakdown doesn't take up a lot of shelf space.

Let's go ahead and get the bad news out of the way first. The Wildcats can throw the ball. Kentucky leads the league in aerial offense with 268.7 passing yards per game. The Bluegrass State Felines have accounted for more touchdown passes (29) than any other team in the conference and South Carolina is the only S.E.C. squad to have gained more first downs through the air than U.K. (124).

Andre Woodson stands atop the league in passing yards per game (265.3). The Wildcats' senior quarterback is completing 63.6 per cent of his passes and he has thrown the aforementioned 29 touchdown tosses to just seven interceptions. Woodson's fellow upperclassmen Keenan Burton and Dicky Lyons have posted similar numbers---each has a 51-yard reception to his credit; each has hauled in half a dozen touchdown passes; both average a little over eleven yards per catch---but Steve Johnson has stolen the show with nine T.D. receptions.

Nevertheless, there is cause for confidence. In spite of the fact that the Bulldogs concede 201.5 yards per game through the air, the Red and Black have allowed a league-low nine touchdown passes in 2007. No other S.E.C. squad has surrendered as few T.D. tosses in the red zone as the four permitted by the 'Dawgs.

Besides, Georgia boasts a better aerial offense than the Classic City Canines' 209.1 passing yards per game would suggest. The Bulldogs are a comparable squad to Kentucky in many respects.

Two Wildcats manage more than 12 yards per catch, five Wildcats have caught a pass that covered more than 25 yards, five Wildcats have caught at least two touchdown passes, and Kentucky averages 7.2 yards per attempt. That ain't bad . . . but eight Bulldogs average more than a dozen yards per reception, seven Bulldogs have covered more than one-fourth of a football field in a single snag, six Bulldogs have tallied at least a pair of touchdown catches, and Georgia averages 7.3 yards per attempt.

"You da man! No, wait . . . you da man! Hang on . . . ah, heck, all of you are da man!"

The two teams' figures are fairly even in a number of ways, but their respective trajectories are clear: Matthew Stafford may average only (only!) 203.5 passing yards per game, but, over the course of Georgia's last three contests, he has tallied 671 passing yards, seven touchdowns, and three interceptions. Over that span, Stafford has averaged 223.7 aerial yards per game and 10.2 yards per attempt.

Since losing the shootout to the Gators, though, Woodson has managed fewer than 6.5 yards per pass while throwing three touchdown tosses and three interceptions in his last two outings. Even crediting Mississippi State's and Vanderbilt's pass defenses---both of which are ranked higher than Georgia's in yards per game permitted---the Bulldogs' and the Wildcats' offensive arcs are intersecting.

This is not good news for a Kentucky defense that has allowed the most touchdown passes (16) of any team in the S.E.C. U.K. has coughed up a dozen T.D. passes in the red zone, which exceeds the total any other Southeastern Conference squad has surrendered.

Although the Wildcats' proficiency with the forward pass is not in doubt, the gap between the two teams is not as wide as a cursory glance at the numbers would suggest and the divide separating Saturday's combatants is narrowing as the Georgia offense begins to hit its stride and big plays become more and more a part of the Bulldogs' repertoire.

That should put all of Bulldog Nation in a favorable frame of mind as we move on to our next topic of discussion; namely, the running game. I'm thinking that fellow who wears the number 24 for Georgia may figure prominently in that portion of the breakdown.

Go 'Dawgs!