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Kentucky Wildcats Host The Georgia Bulldogs: Virtual Tailgate

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Reviving one of ASoB’s oldest traditions. If UK loses, we’re never doing it again.

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Virtual Tailgate for this evening’s match-up between the Kentucky Wildcats and the Georgia Bulldogs. The ‘Dawgs visit Lexington having only won one game in their last five. The ‘Cats, of course, are the exact opposite having won four of their last five games.

These two teams appear headed in opposite directions, but don’t be fooled, today’s game is momentous for them both. Kentucky could “seal the deal” with a victory today, and spend the next three games playing with house money.

Georgia sits at four wins and still has games against rival Georgia Tech and Auburn in the weeks ahead. Georgia needs a win this weekend, or the postseason will become elusive.

We’ll get to a short breakdown soon. For now, pull up a folding chair and relax. No one has ever aged around a tailgate.

The Menu

Being that we tailgate right, we start early, and prosecco mimosas are needed to properly welcome game day while we contemplate winning the SEC East to the dulcet sounds of Lee Corso beaming out of the televisions around us.

For brunch: the English staple of scotch eggs. These soft boil eggs are encased in ground sausage, bread crumbs, and if you are feeling epicurean, wrapped in bacon. It’s not a bad day that starts off with a fried pork and egg combination.

As the sun moves across the sky, the parking lot fills, and new sights and smells strike our senses, we get our signal for Beer O’Clock. On today’s menu, we have Lexington’s own West Sixth Brewing’s IPA which is the best IPA on the entire market. I know, because my liver and I have drank hundreds of IPA’s at breweries across this country in the name of scientific research and public service.

An omnipresent sight at most tailgates is some form of a dip or spread. There’s usually an option along the lines of a buffalo chicken dip, or some kind of homemade salsa, or even a classic hummus. Since it’s fall, and the crisp air makes savory foods all the better, it’s a perfect time to switch things up a bit for the “meat butter” that is roasted bone marrow. This unctuous delight is spread over sourdough that’s been toasted on the grill. We’ve already had one British inspired dish today in the scotch eggs, so why not make it two from our former colonial oppressors?

After all that umami flavor, let’s finish with something a bit lighter, and enjoy a simple seafood kebab. Fat coastal shrimp, scallops, and snapper previously marinated in cider vinegar, olive oil, and minced chipotle peppers to add a slight kick to the cider’s sweetness.

Normally when you play Georgia, the dessert is a peach pie or cobbler (preferably made with biscuit crust), but we’ve already eaten a lot of heavy foods and we don’t want to be drowsy at kick-off. Macarons are the compromise. Today’s selection includes: pistachio, pumpkin spice, mocha hazelnut, raspberry fig, and caramel pecan.

Finally, we enjoy a barrel strength liquor which pairs well with Kentucky’s pending victory. It cuts through all the calories we just consumed, amiably passes through our bloodstreams, and then establishes a secure beachhead on our neurotransmitters. Today, we have Bardstown’s own Willet’s small batch rye whiskey - a deceptively strong profile for a two year whiskey that you may imbibe neat or on the rocks. If you’re spotted trying to mix it with Sprite we will take turns tearing your clothes, saddle you on a lame horse, and then exile you into the dark void that is Indiana.

Game Breakdown

Georgia’s defense will be the third best UK has faced this season after Alabama and Florida. Kentucky’s recent offensive success has come against much lesser competition, and the ‘Dawgs will serve as a measuring stick to see how much improvement UK really made in October.

The ‘Dawgs are allowing 3.24 yards per carry which ranks them fourth in the SEC. S&P+ ranks Kentucky’s rushing attack as the eighth best in the land, and we’ll see if that rating is justified.

Georgia has also forced 16 turnovers this season which is second in the SEC. UK has given up a league worse 20 turnovers this year. At the outset, it would appear UK will give up its average of two turnovers per game. That could very likely prove decisive in a loss.

Kentucky does match up fairly evenly with Georgia defensively. The Georgia offense is ranked in triple digits in terms of explosiveness, efficiency, and finishing drives. Kentucky’s defense doesn’t fair much better in terms of efficiency or finishing drives, but the idea that Georgia will be able to consistently march down the field for seven points seems far-fetched given UK’s elite ability to prevent explosive plays. Plus, UK’s S&P+ defensive rankings are cumulative for the season, and so UK’s defensive numbers are likely somewhat better than represented here.

Georgia would be even more reliant on explosive plays to make up lost yardage as UK has improved on first and second downs downs (UK is 67th in defense on overall standard downs) in the last month. If UK can contain Georgia’s talented backfield, and force Georgia to beat the ‘Cats through the air, UK’s defense can replicate the success of Vanderbilt.

In my mind, this game will be decided by one-score and will come down to UK’s ability to run the ball while winning the turnover battle. This is a “"measuring stick” game for UK’s running attack. On Saturday, we’ll find out how good they actually are running the ball, and if we can trust them to do so against strong defensive fronts such as Tennessee and Louisville.

UK running the ball well today would significantly increase the ‘Cats odds of getting to the eight win mark.

Injury Report

Georgia safety Dominick Sanders (ankle)

Daquan Hawkins-Muckle (ankle)

Jayson Stanley (toe)

Kentucky running back Jojo Kemp (hand)