Tomorrow night, the Georgia Bulldogs will be taking on the Kentucky Wildcats in what very nearly qualifies as “the bye week, part deux.” How bad have things gotten on the gridiron in the Commonwealth? So bad that Kentucky fans are
turning their attention to basketball season already parsing the minutiae of Joker Phillips’s contract. Nevertheless, this is a conference road game, and it coincides with the Third Annual Dawg Sports Sacrificial Goat Roast, so it deserves not a modicum of insight, nor a reasonable amount of data, but, rather, Too Much Information:
Kentucky is truly, horribly, epically bad on offense. The Wildcats rank 95th nationally (and 11th in the SEC) in passing offense, 110th nationally (and 14th in the SEC) in rushing offense, 114th nationally (and 13th in the SEC) in scoring offense, and 116th nationally (and 13th in the SEC) in total offense. If our defense struggles, even a little, even intermittently, against the Kentucky offense, this is officially the most underperforming Georgia defense in school history.
Speaking of school history, the Bulldogs are 51-12-2 all-time against the Wildcats, and the Red and Black have taken 13 of the last 15 meetings from the Blue and White. Georgia has posted an overall 24-7 record in Lexington, where the Classic City Canines have won on six of their last seven trips. Basically, we’ve been about as dominant over them in football as they have been over us in basketball.
Mark Richt’s teams are 13-4 following a bye week and 24-10 after a loss.
Compared to how terrible they are on offense, the Bluegrass State Bobcats almost border on being something less than completely incompetent on defense. Kentucky ranks 70th nationally (and 11th in the SEC) in passing defense, 78th nationally (and 11th in the SEC) in total defense, 89th nationally (and 12th in the SEC) in rushing defense, and 101st nationally (and 14th in the SEC) in scoring defense. Yes, smart-aleck, we rank ahead of them in all of those categories, though, admittedly, not always by much.
Georgia has never lost both to South Carolina and to Kentucky in any season that was not either the Georgia head coach’s first (Jim Donnan in 1996) or the Georgia head coach’s last (Vince Dooley in 1988). This is not Mark Richt’s first season in Athens, so history says that the Bulldogs will win or Coach Richt will not return in 2013.
In the first five years of the Mark Richt era, Georgia was 5-0 against Kentucky, winning by margins of 14 in 2001, 28 in 2002, 20 in 2003, 45 in 2004, and 32 in 2005. In the six years since, however, the Bulldogs have lost to the Wildcats twice, and the Athenians’ four victories have been by margins of 11 in 2007, four in 2008, 13 in 2010, and nine in 2011. Those are not encouraging trends.
The Bulldogs have scored 42 or more points against the Wildcats in seven of the last 13 seasons. That’s not a bad benchmark for a Georgia offense that has scored 41 or more points five times in this season’s first six games.
I’m feeling uncommonly good about this one. As noted above, this Georgia team has been scoring points, and Kentucky has a history of giving up big point totals to the Bulldogs. Last year, after three straight series shootouts, the Red and Black held the Blue and White to ten points for the first time since 2003. If ever there was a Wildcat offense that was susceptible to being held down, it is this one.
The Classic City Canines should be angry, rested, and focused after an embarrassing loss to South Carolina and a relaxing open date. Though I don’t think it will mean much in the grand scheme of things, I expect the ‘Dawgs to have their way with the ‘Cats tomorrow night.
My Prediction: Georgia Bulldogs 56, Kentucky Wildcats 10.