After a very long six years, the Cats are finally bowling! The Cats will face the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Saturday morning at 11:00 AM ET on ESPN, in Jacksonville, Florida.
Kentucky is playing in one of the best possible bowls a team can be in, the TaxSlayer Bowl. The TaxSlayer Bowl is a top-10 BCS bowl. The game will be played on the same day as both national championship semi-final games and the Louisville vs. LSU game, which is kicking off at 11:00 AM ET as well, on ABC.
The Cats are a 3.5-point underdog going into Saturday’s matchup against the Jackets. If the Cats are going to get a big bowl game win, here is some keys to doing so.
- Establish the run game. The Cats have an average of 40 pounds of extra weight across the offensive line over Georgia Tech. The Cats average 6’5 and 305 pounds on the offensive line, and the Yellow Jackets average 6’3 and 265 pounds across the defensive line. With such size difference across the board, the Cats should be able to get Benny Snell and Boom Williams going.
- I’m not saying Boom Williams is going to the draft, but if he were really considering it, this game would be a showcase game to show NFL Scouts exactly what he is made of.
- Win the turnover battle. In the last three games, Georgia Tech forced nine turnovers, seven of which were interceptions. Stephen Johnson will need to make very good reads and complete a lot of short passes, which he has struggled with throughout the season. If Stephen Johnson and CJ Conrad can hook up a few times, that would help. With the advantage on the offensive line, Johnson should have plenty of time to make the correct reads.
- Contain the edge. The Yellow Jackets offense is unlike any other offense in the country. The Yellow Jackets run a very good version of the option. Senior quarterback, Justin Thomas has rushed 562 yards on 128 attempts out of the unconventional offense. Freshman running back, Dedrick Mills has added 602 yards on 121 attempts for the Yellow Jackets. The Yellow Jackets come into Saturday’s game with the 10th ranked rushing offense in the country. The head coach, Paul Johnson is one of very few that still call plays from the mouth at the sideline. The offense may be unconventional, but after a lot of good seasons at Tech, the offense proves to keep on working.
- Win the field position battle. My guess is there will be a lot of punting during this game. The game will be fast and probably not that high scoring unless Kentucky gets the passing game going. Grant Mckinniss is averaging just over 36 yards-per-punt on the season. If Kentucky is going to win Saturday, Mckinniss really needs to be over that number. If Mckinniss can average 40 yards-per-punt, then I believe the cats should win the field position battle.
- Convert 3rd downs. With Kentucky being primarily a run-first offense, they will have a lot of 3rd and 4 or 3rd and 3 to go. The Cats are ranked 75th in the country on 3rd down conversions, averaging just over 40 percent. The Wildcats have a lot of weapons and a lot of matchups in this game that should give them the edge, now all Eddie Gran has to do is exploit the mismatches.
This season has been one to remember, that’s for sure. Stephen Johnson comes in early in the first quarter after Drew Barker injures his back against New Mexico State and wins by a score of 62-42.
Johnson Finishes the season with six wins and three losses as a starting quarterback at Kentucky. The Cats upset top-10 ranked Louisville at Papa John Stadium, and the Cards were 38-point favorites in the game. Now, the Cats are playing in one of the best possible bowls to be in, and they have a legit shot to win it.
If you are a true Kentucky fan, just being in this game should make you happy. If the Cats win that’s great, if they lose so what, at least they made it, and Kentucky Football is finally back, and I believe it is back for a while.
My Prediction: Kentucky 31 Georgia Tech 27
What’s your prediction for the game? Let us know below!