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Know Your Enemy: Kentucky Wildcats

Kentucky?  I thought they were a basketball school.

NCAA Football: Georgia at Kentucky
Sony for the Touchdown in last year’s Contest
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

We don’t usually think of Kentucky as an enemy. At least not in the same way as Florida, Auburn or Tennessee. But they do actually play football and they are in our conference and our division so we are playing them and that makes them an enemy at least for 4 hours.

Who are they? The Kentucky Wildcats

Head Coach: Mark Stoops (Brother to both Bob and Mike Stoops)

When & Where? Time TBD, November 18th, Sanford Stadium, Athens GA.

Famous Alumni: John T. Scopes, Lots of basketball players & coaches

What conference are they affiliated with? The Southeastern Conference (7-6, 4-4 in 2016. Lost to Tech in the TaxSlayer Bowl).

Fast Fact: In 1950 The #7 Kentucky Wildcats coached by Bear Bryant beat #1 Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl ending a 31 game win streak and claim the National Title.

I just don’t have a pile of hate for Kentucky. I mean yeah our division, conference, schedule, blah blah blah. But it’s Kentucky and we aren’t playing basketball. Their record vs. UGA is 12-56-2, all time and they’ve lost the last 6 in a row. It is theoretically possible for Kentucky to win, but with a win percentage of 0.188 vs us, I wouldn’t be getting terribly excited about the idea if I were Ashley Judd.

On the other hand, they did go 7-6 last year. Coach Stoops is starting his fifth season for the Wildcats. So far, he’s 19-30, but the trend is improving. This year they return 8 starters on Offense, but lose star RB Boon Williams and receiver Jeff Badet. Senior QB Stephen Johnson is a dual threat and the offensive line should provide him plenty of help. Last year he completed 145 of 265 passes for 2,037 yards including 13 TD’s. He had 6 interceptions and 20 sacks. He also had 97 runs for 327 yards. He took over the starting job when Drew Barker injured his back. From that point, Kentucky went 6-3 to finish the year including beating Louisville and eventual Heisman Trophy Winner Lamar Jackson. Bad news from practice, WR Dorian Baker may be out for the season with a fractured left ankle.

On Defense, the Wildcats hired a familiar name, John Jancek, as an off-field Consultant on Defense. (Georgia fired him at the end of 2009 along with Willie Martinez and Jon Fabris.) They return 9 Defensive starters, which usually suggests an improvement in performance from the prior year. Left Tackle Cole Mosier is out for the season with a torn ACL sustained during a preseason scrimmage. Their defense wasn’t terribly stellar last year. Bill Connelly called last year’s defense, “capable of slowing lesser offenses but got torched by just about any with a pulse.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement. Beyond that, our offensive line is simply bigger than their Defensive Line. I expect Kentucky’s defense to have a difficult time controlling the line of scrimmage and thus the time of possession, and the game.

In reasonably normal circumstances, the Dawgs should be favored to win this one. Kentucky has been building a program and there are some who think they have a dark horse shot to win the SEC East. There’s a pile of things that will have to go wrong in at least the Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee programs for that to happen. In short, even our colleagues over at Sea of Blue think the Dawgs win this one.

Podunkdawg’s prediction: Georgia Bulldogs 38, Kentucky Wildcats 21*

Until next time...

GO Dawgs!

*I never make any public predictions that involve anything less than a Georgia Bulldog victory, now please pass me the kool-aid, I’ve already got my clear liquors & fruit.