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Kentucky vs. Georgia Roundtable and Predictions

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Breaking down Kentucky vs. Georgia and what to expect in the SEC East title game.

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Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

Well, BBN. It’s here. The biggest game of the season for the Kentucky Wildcats and quite possibly the biggest game in recent program history.

On Saturday afternoon, the No. 9 Wildcats (7-1, 5-1 SEC) will face the No. 6 Georgia Bulldogs (7-1, 5-1 SEC) at Kroger Field. At stake is the SEC East championship and a berth in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta in December.

It’s heady days in Lexington nowadays. Usually the Cat fan base is talking Wildcat basketball and passively watching the football season wind up.

No more. The BBN is all-in on this team and the Big Supermarket will be packed to the rafters in anticipation of this winner-take-all matchup.

With so much at stake for the Cats, it remains to be seen how UK will respond Saturday. With that in mind, the fearless, confident staff at A Sea of Blue gather again at their round table to hash out the matchup and give their predictions on how the game will shake out.

Will the Cats achieve the dream and take the next step toward their season of destiny?

Let’s find out from our experts!

Shane Shackleford

As a Kentucky football fan, I’ve contemplated this game for a while. I’ve tried to take it a game at a time, hoping that when November 3rd rolled around, the Cats would have a chance to do the impossible in the eyes of many and play for a chance to play for a berth in the SEC championship game in Atlanta. After surviving at Missouri last Saturday, that time is now.

I don’t worry about the UK defense. Led by All-American candidate Josh Allen, The Cats can match up with Georgia up front and in the defensive back end. That we know. I also feel like we can compete in the special teams game as well. Sometimes the game can be won and lost on special teams, and Kentucky has the pieces to compete there as well.

But in all honesty, the game will hinge on UK’s ability to move the ball on offense. Everybody knows the Cats are run oriented, and Georgia will load up the box to stop Benny Snell and AJ Rose. We all know its coming.

However, as I watched the Mizzou game, I saw Terry Wilson make strides as a passer. I felt like he threw nice passes most of the day, especially to Lynn Bowden. If Wilson can take advantage of the midrange passing game to Bowden and CJ Conrad (which should be there), then the Cats have a shot to win.

Again, everything in me says pick the Cats, but my papaw always told me bet with your wallet, not with your heart. My wallet says Georgia scores a couple of late touchdowns and defeats Kentucky.

Prediction: Georgia 31, Kentucky 17

John Morgan Francis

In recent history, Kentucky never wins this type of game. However, Georgia comes into Kroger Field as a 10-point favorite and the Wildcats have won-outright in four of the five games of which they’ve been underdogs.

Having what is expected to be a sell-out, rambunctious and eager crowd is certainly an advantage, especially against sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm who seems to be a roller coaster this season.

Add in a stellar pass rush, veteran secondary along with multiple linebackers that exceptionally defend the run & the nation’s top-scoring defense should be ready to go.

Despite Terry Wilson’s coming out party at Missouri, it would be foolish to expect an encore on Saturday. Georgia ranks first in the SEC when defending through the air, which should allow them to bring pressure on Kentucky’s offensive line.

However, the Bulldogs do rank just seventh against opposing rushing attacks and, after a let-down game against the Tigers, Benny Snell Jr. should come out ready to bulldoze whoever stands in his way.

Overall, a 10-point spread seems to be more name-based than anything. If you were told before the season that would be the spread for this game, you’d most likely be shell-shocked.

Expect the two defenses to keep it close, as the winner of the turnover/special teams battle comes out victorious.

Prediction: Georgia 17, Kentucky 14

Drew Koch

This is it. This is Kentucky’s chance, at home, to shock the world. The Cats entered the week as double-digit underdogs and that’s understandable, but this year’s Kentucky team will only use it to fuel their fire.

This game comes down to the offense. As good as UK’s defense is, Georgia is going to score. However, I don’t think they’ll score over 30 points. With that said, the Cats will have to put up at least 24 to win, and that might not be enough.

Terry Wilson had a decent game against Mizzou, and Lynn Bowden Jr. had a career-day. The Cats will need both Wilson and Bowden on their game this Saturday if they’re going to defeat the Bulldogs.

The Cats need to get an unconventional score if they hope to win this matchup that’s essentially for the SEC East crown. A punt return, fumble recovery for a touchdown, or a pick-six may be necessary to help the Cats’ struggling offense put points on the board.

In the end, I think Georgia is just going to be too much for the Cats. I expect UK to cover the spread, but not win the game.

Prediction: Georgia 27, Kentucky 21

Aaron Gershon

Saturday will be the biggest game in Kentucky Football history. The Cats come into Saturday’s SEC East winner-take-all game coming off a comeback win for the ages. If that doesn’t give the team momentum, there are many other ways for the team to get motivated.

The Cats haven’t beaten the Bulldogs since 2009, are again double-digit underdogs, and a trip to Atlanta is on the line. This game is going to be physical, chippy, and likely low scoring.

But at home, it just feels right. I believe Kentucky’s senior-led defense can take down Georgia's younger offense, and believe Terry Wilson can do enough to guide his team to a win. It may not be pretty, but it can be history.

Prediction: Kentucky 20, Georgia 17

Nick Wheatley

The No. 9 ranked Kentucky Wildcats are taking on the No. 6 ranked Georgia Bulldogs in a battle for the SEC East title. That’s right. That means the road to the SEC Championship goes through Lexington, Kentucky.

Who would’ve thought? Well, that also means this is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, games in Kentucky football history.

The Dawgs are led by QB Jake Fromm, RBs Elijah Holyfield and D’Andre Swift, and a very good defense.

Fromm is 7th in the SEC in passing yards (1649), 2nd in completion percentage (67.4%) and passing TDs (16), while sitting tied for 11th in interceptions with only 4. He’s good. He’s very good. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and he gets the job done. The Cats are going to need to get pressure on him. One of their biggest flaws is giving up sacks, which is also why another one of their biggest weaknesses is average field position.

Holyfield and Swift are the best RB combo UK will have faced since...well, last year against Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Holyfield ranks 10th in the SEC in rushing yards (559) and Swift comes in at 15 (466). However, that doesn’t truly speak to their abilities. They both have less than 100 carries on the season because they truly split the carries 50/50. Holyfield ranks 3rd in yards per carry (6.6), while Swift ranks 9th (5.6). Kentucky has to slow this ground game down.

Lastly, the Bulldogs have a good defensive unit, but they aren’t perfect. Of Kentucky’s SEC opponents thus far, only Vanderbilt’s rushing defense ranks lower than Georgia. However, the passing defense is the real deal, as they rank 9th nationally in passing yards allowed, while no one has averaged more than 6.8 yards per attempt against them.

With all that being said, the keys to winning this game are going to be forcing turnovers and winning the field position battle. Georgia has a poor punting game, on top of giving up a lot of sacks, which is why I said average field position is one of their biggest weaknesses. UK will need to flip the field with punts of their own and force three-and-outs to give their offense some short fields.

I’m not worried about Kentucky’s defense. They’ve been rock solid all year. But I do worry about the offense. Georgia got defensive touchdowns against both South Carolina and Missouri. And they forced Florida to commit three turnovers. The Cats have to come out focused, take care of the ball, and take advantage of UGA’s soft spots.

I truly believe UK can win this game. But with the way the offense has been completely shut down the last 14 quarters, I have to go with Georgia. Kentucky’s defense will keep the Cats in it, but it won’t be enough.

Prediction: Georgia 20 Kentucky 10

Janson Hoskins

Kentucky is coming off an incredible come-from=behind win last week against SEC East rival Missouri. This week leading up to the Georgia game at Kroger Field is sure to be filled with great anticipation due to the fact that this game alone is for Kentucky to have a chance to play in the SEC Championship game against either Alabama or LSU.

I’m still a fairly young Kentucky fan at 26 years of age, but in my lifetime, I cannot name you game that means more than what this one does to the Kentucky Football program.

To say that this will be an incredibly tough and physical game would probably be an understatement. However, after what I’ve seen from this Kentucky defense week after week, I don’t have a doubt in my mind that they will be able to “slow” Georgia down. It will be hard to stop Georgia, and they will still get their yards, but as long as Kentucky slow down the Bulldogs’ passing game, I like their chances against Georgia’s running game.

Mark Stoops said on Tuesday that Terry Wilson had a spark about him and was making some very good passes in practice, and I believe that we will need to see the Wilson that lead Kentucky on that game-winning drive against Missouri in order to have a chance on Saturday.

Benny Snell will get his yards, and don’t be surprised if you see AJ Rose get a few big plays as well. I believe the atmosphere at Kroger Field will be the game changer. Georgia’s lone loss was at LSU in front of an electric crowd, something that they didn’t see in any other game, but the Kroger Field crowd needs to have that kind of impact.

Kentucky wins a close one and goes on to play in the SEC Championship.

Prediction: Kentucky 23, Georgia 20

Jason Marcum

It’s crazy to see how far Kentucky has come from being a preseason work in progress that many experts weren’t sure would even make a bowl, yet now have a chance to win the school’s first SEC East crown. There’s no doubt in my mind Mark Stoops has done the best coaching job in America in taking this program to a level it’s not seen since names like Bear Bryant and Jerry Claiborne were leading the way.

No matter what happens Saturday, this is still going down as one of the best in program history, though a win over Georgia would put it right up there as the best ever. But as far as Kentucky has come, I still think Georgia is one of the few teams capable of hanging with an Alabama team that looks unbeatable.

After the way the Bulldogs lost in the title game last year, this has been a redemption season for them, and it’s just been hard for me to see anyone other than them getting a shot at Alabama in Atlanta.

If Kentucky’s offense was operating like it was against Florida and the first half vs. South Carolina, I’d pick them to win, but I just can’t get over how much they’ve struggled there recently, and Georgia has a wealth of talent on defense.

This game will be a war for four quarters, but in the end, I believe Georgia holds on for a close win and forces Kentucky to wait another year for Atlanta.

Prediction: Georgia 26, Kentucky 20

Sam Gillenwater

Two seasons hang in the balance as the No. 9 Kentucky Wildcats host the No. 6 Georgia Bulldogs this weekend for a matchup with immense implications. The winner will earn themselves an SEC East Title and an opportunity in the SEC Championship game in Atlanta.

The Wildcats escaped the jaws of an upset last week with an 8 play, 81 yard drive in the final 1:24 to beat Missouri 15-14. Had it not been for a Lynn Bowden Jr. punt return TD and a toss up pass interference call that led to CJ Conrad’s game-winning touchdown, this game might not have the significance it does. The Wildcats looked ineffective on offense. Benny Snell only rushed for 67 yards, and although Terry Wilson was better, it almost wasn’t enough again.

The difference maker for Kentucky is the defense. After facing a 14-3 halftime deficit, the Wildcats’ defense forced eight straight three-and-outs on Drew Lock and Missouri’s offense. This group, led by senior linebacker Josh Allen, faces another strong offensive unit with Jake Fromm and all his weapons. They’re only allowing 13 points per game to the opponents, so the real question is can the offense capitalize on the opportunities the defense gives them.

With all the pressure on this game, I think Kentucky finds a way to pull this out. The offense has played better at home and if anyone thought Kroger Field was rowdy for some of the upsets earlier this season, it’s going to be electric for this matchup.

It’ll be close, as Georgia was in the College Football Playoff title game last season for a reason, but I think Kentucky’s offense takes advantage of good play on the defensive end. With this, Kentucky will launch into Atlanta and at least give themselves the chance at an SEC title.

Prediction: Kentucky 24, Georgia 23

Jamie Boggs

What a season this as been. 7-1 and playing for a chance to go to the SEC Championship game. This is a week that Big Blue Nation should cherish and enjoy. The buildup to this game is going to be possibly the most enjoyable week that Kentucky football fans have ever had.

Georgia is very good. They are very strong defensively and have offensive weapons at every skill position. They are the best team that Kentucky has played by a significant margin.

Kentucky certainly has a chance to win this game. The defense will face its biggest challenge, but I also think that Kentucky is the best defense that Georgia has come up against. If the defense plays well and Terry Wilson looks as good as he did against Missouri, then Kentucky could keep it close enough to have a chance at the end.

However, I think the margin of talent between these teams will be a bit too much for the Wildcats to overcome. I think they make a strong showing, but ultimately pick up their second loss of the season.

Prediction: Georgia 27, Kentucky 10