Time/Location: Noon, Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA
Television: SEC Network (Matt Stinchcomb, Dave Neal, Kayce Smith)
Radio: The Georgia Bulldog Radio Network, and Sirius/XM
Maestro, the theme music for this matchup of SEC East titans:
You would have a hard time finding two teams who had worse Octobers than the Georgia Bulldogs and the Kentucky Wildcats. The Bulldogs' trials and tribulations over the past few weeks have been well-documented. We don't need to rehash that particular subject.
What you may not know is that the Bluegrass State Felines have had their own struggles. After getting off to a promising 4-1 start the Fightin' Stoopses have dropped three in a row to Auburn (30-27), Mississippi State (42-16), and Tennessee (52-21). It's the second season under S tools, and the second one in which the 'Cats seem poised to fade down the stretch after a solid start. Bottom line, Kentucky is almost as sorely in need of a win as the Bulldogs.
Kentucky will be without perhaps their most explosive weapon, sophomore tailback Boom Williams. Williams, a former George Walton standout and Bulldog commit, leads the team with 563 yards on 85 carries (6.6 per attempt) and is also a threat in the passing game. While I hate that the young man will miss the chance to come back and see the field in front of the home town crowd, I am not sorry that the Bulldog defense avoids facing a versatile athlete who's among the most potent big play threats in the SEC.
Stoops will put the ball in the hands of QB Patrick Towles, a coveted prospect out of high school who has shown flashes of potential amidst some pretty awkward performances. Towles is completing 58% of his passes on the season, and has thrown nine touchdowns against ten interceptions. Only once in eight games (against Missouri in a 21-13 win) has Towles failed to throw an interception. Towles has also been sacked 22 times already behind a Wildcat offensive line that has been susceptible to pressure from even defensive units over whom they should have a physical advantage. I'd expect Jeremy Pruitt to bring lots of four and five man pressure if he can afford to do so, giving him plenty of guys on the backside to make Towles pay for any mistakes.
If there was a defense for the anemic Bulldog offense to get things clicking against, this is probably it. Kentucky is 13th in the league in scoring defense, giving up 29.1 points per game, and 12th in total defense, surrendering an average of 414 yards per game. Earlier this season they gave up 33 points to Louisiana-Lafayette. I don't know that this Bulldog offense can reach that heady mark, but anything over 21 points would feel like a million right now. We'll be back at the half with your second half thread but until then be good to each other, and . . .