The time has arrived to disregard classifying Kentucky’s success as “so far this season” and instead classifying their success as “this season.”
For example, the Kentucky Wildcats have showed time & time again that their ability to defensively shut down opponents, whether on the road or at home, is without question the best aspect to their team.
However, as quarterback Terry Wilson found his groove last weekend at Missouri, a much-needed confidence boost has arrived just in time as Kentucky hosts what will be the game of the century for it’s program.
On Saturday afternoon, the Wildcats will kick-off with the Georgia Bulldogs in Kroger Field for rights to represent the SEC East in the conference’s championship game in Atlanta.
Time to break it all down.
Despite being ranked just three spots behind the Bulldogs in the College Playoff rankings, the Wildcats find themselves as current eight & a half point underdogs at home in Saturday’s matchup. Kentucky has fared well when overlooked, though, winning outright in all but one of their games of which official oddsmakers viewed them as the underdog.
According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, though, Kentucky has just a 19% chance of upset.
A top-ranked Kentucky scoring defense will play a large role in Saturday’s outcome, but will be far from the deciding factor. Wilson will need to take care of the football and manage a clean game but, again, won’t be the deciding factor.
On what is expected to be a chilly, fall afternoon, early-season Heisman Trophy candidate Benny Snell Jr. will need to carry the weight of Big Blue Nation on his shoulders. The departure of top-linebacker Roquan Smith from Georgia’s defense a season ago has left a gaping hole for Snell to take advantage of.
Snell is also coming off his most disappointing game of the season and, in order to take pressure off of Wilson against the conference’s top-pass defense, must wreck havoc carving up the trenches for Kentucky.
Kentucky hasn’t allowed more than 20 points in a game all season, but LSU is the only team to hold Georgia under 35. While Kentucky’s defense is elite, LSU is one of the few clubs that has an argument to be superior. Regardless of who is better, Kentucky’s defense will have to be the best in college football on Saturday to beat Georgia.
Behind multiple aspects of their complete football team, the Wildcats have proved they can win in the tightest of all spots. However, Saturday’s game will come with pressure only few have experienced in a Kentucky-blue uniform.
CBS Sports predictors Barton Simmons, Ben Kercheval, Dennis Dodd and Jerry Palm are picking Kentucky to cover the spread. Barrett Sallee, Chip Patterson and Tom Fornelli expect Georgia to win beyond the spread.
In regards to who wins the game, Dodd & Simmons are picking the Wildcats as outright-winners.
Tuning in to USA Today, Dan Wolken, Eddie Timanus, Erick Smith, George Schroder, Jace Evans and Paul Myerberg are across-the-board in favor of the Bulldogs.
At ESPN, only two of their 16 experts picked Kentucky to win.
The Sports Illustrated team has six picks in favor of Georgia vs. just two for Kentucky.
According to OddsShark, Georgia is predicted to cover the nine-point spread in a 36.3-23.9 route that will send the game total of 44.5 over.
Needless to say, very few experts are picking Kentucky to win this week, but coming into the season, no one had the Cats taking down the Dawgs, who are once again a strong College Football Playoff contender. The fact that it’s even possible is just another example of how far this team has come.
The line has changed quite a bit since Georgia opened as a 12-point favorite. The line has gone down as low as nine points as of Friday, so it appears a heavy amount of betting is being made on Kentucky covering the spread.
However, Georgia has been good at covering the spread against Kentucky. The Bulldogs are 5-0 against the spread when playing Kentucky the last five times. In other words, Mark Stoops has never covered the spread against Georgia.
Here are some recent betting trends for both teams:
- Georgia is 7-1 SU in its last 8 games
- Georgia is 10-3 ATS in its last 13 games on the road
- Georgia is 11-2 SU in its last 13 games on the road
- The total has gone OVER in 4 of Georgia’s last 5 games on the road
- Kentucky is 7-1 SU in its last 8 games
- As a double-digit underdog, Kentucky is 2-0 SU this season.
- Kentucky is 5-1 SU as an underdog in its last 6 games
- Kentucky is 6-0 ATS as an underdog this season.
- The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Kentucky’s last 5 games
- Kentucky is 2-8 ATS in its last 10 games at home
- Kentucky is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games at home
- The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Kentucky’s last 6 games at home
- Kentucky is 0-5 ATS in its last 5 games when playing Georgia
- Kentucky is 0-5 SU in its last 5 games when playing Georgia
- Kentucky is 0-5 SU in its last 5 games when playing at home against Georgia
Before the season began, Kentucky was notorious for “not showing up” in these spots throughout the season. However, as hard evidence proves, this season is completely opposite.
The Wildcats boast a proud, true, veteran defense with an offense full of skilled playmakers. They also will play in front of a home crowd that has caused nothing but trouble for visiting teams this season.
Georgia, though, has the far advantage in talent and the same could be said for coaching. The team that turns the ball over coughs up the game as well. While both quarterbacks have had their shaky slumps, Fromm did compete in a national championship game.
Prediction: Georgia 17, Kentucky 14
How do you see Saturday’s SEC East title game playing out?