The University of Georgia visits Kroger Field in what is arguably the most important game for Kentucky football in the last 40 years. Will Kentucky claim the SEC East division to earn a spot in the SEC Championship game? Here’s what the stats say:
- 236 Passing Yards-Per-Game (1,889 passing yards in eight games)
- 9:2 Touchdown-to-Interception Ratio in on the year (18 TDs to 4 INTs)
- 68% Completion Percentage on 203 pass attempts (25.4 per game)
Has it seemed like Jake Fromm has been a disappointment this year? You wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at the numbers, as he sports a sterling 4:1 TD-INT ratio while completing nearly 68% of his passes. Many have called for star freshman Justin Fields to replace him, and that’s a scary scenario for Kentucky. Fields has completed 72% of his passes with two touchdowns and no interceptions in limited action. To say the least, Georgia is loaded at quarterback.
- 148 Passing Yards-Per-Game (1,185 passing yards in eight games)
- 4:3 Touchdown-to-Interception Ratio (8 TDs to 6 INTs)
- 63.6% Completion Percentage on 176 pass attempts (22 per game)
Terry Wilson has been a polarizing player for fans. He fumbles a ball or takes a sack, we hate him. He throws the game-winning pass to setup a winner-take-all game against UGA, we love him. The stats are polarizing as well. Wilson has done an excellent job of completing passes at a rate of 65.4%. He also has more interceptions (7) than touchdowns (6) while averaging a very measly 6.5 Yards-Per-Attempt. The YPA can be excused by play-calling, but he must protect the ball in order for Kentucky to win this game. Backup Gunner Hoak played in some drives against Missouri, and he may see the field if Wilson struggles. Hoak struggled, though, going 3-8 through the air. Hey, at least Benny Snell, Jr. has a 791.2 passer rating.
- 5.63 Rushing Yards-Per-Attempt on 315 attempts
- 146.6 Rushing-Yards-Per Game (1,773 rushing yards in eight games)
- 17 Rushing Touchdowns in eight games
Georgia spearheads their running back core with two of the best in the SEC (but not THE best) in Elijah Holyfield and D’Andre Swift. Holyfield is a hard-nosed, in-between the tackles runner. At 5’11 and weighing 215 pounds, Holyfield punishes interior defenses. Swift, on the other hand, is a very elusive player. He not only gets outside of the tackles to break long runs, he’s also averaging over 10 yards-per-reception. James Cook and Brian Herrien may also receive some carries, and both average over 5 YPC. There’s a reason many consider Georgia RBU.
- 5.07 Rushing Yards-Per-Attempt on 338 attempts
- 214 Rushing Yards-Per-Game (1,712 rushing yards in eight games)
- 17 Rushing Touchdowns in eight games
While Georgia may have two running backs that make All-SEC teams, Kentucky has the best in the conference. Maybe even the nation. Benny Snell, Jr. is having a Heisman-type of season. To make it simple, he’s averaging over 100 rushing yards and a touchdown per-game. Snell has been the heart and soul of the program and will need to bring everything he has to pull out a win Saturday. While Snell is the thunder of the core, A.J. Rose brings the lightning. Rose can do everything you want out of a running back, but he’s especially dangerous in the open field. Rose brings a 5.76 YPC average and four touchdowns to Kroger Field this weekend.
- Riley Ridley: 27 receptions, 374 yards, 5 TDs, Junior
- Mecole Hardman: 26 receptions, 368 yards, 4 TDs, Junior
- Jeremiah Holloman: 15 receptions, 282 yards, 4 TDs, Sophomore
The biggest advantage Georgia has over Kentucky is their passing game. Fromm and Fields help, but the receiving core is going to be a handful for the secondary. Riley Ridley, Calvin Ridley’s brother, leads the team in every major category and is considered one of the best in the conference. Jeremiah Holloman and Terry Godwin will be the big-play threats to watch out for, while Mecole Hardman is more similar to Ridley in terms of production. Isaac Nauta, Georgia’s tight end, is also a threat to make plays.
- Lynn Bowden, Jr.: 43 receptions, 457 yards, 3 TDs, Sophomore
- C.J. Conrad: 18 receptions, 126 yards, 1 TD, Senior
- David Bouvier: 8 receptions, 155 yards, 2 TDs, Senior
The receiving numbers are eerily similar to last year, with Lynn Bowden, Jr. filling the Garrett Johnson role. Bowden has been blossoming into the “next Randall Cobb,” like many thought he would be coming in as a freshman. He will need to have another performance like he had against Missouri to elevate the passing game. The rest of the core has disappointed. C.J. Conrad has only hauled in a little over two catches per-game, which I’m sure shocks everyone (it really doesn’t). Dorian Baker has disappointed this year after he had high expectations returning from injury (only 10 catches on the season). David Bouvier was a camp sensation, but he’s only averaging one catch per-contest. It hasn’t been a banner year for the receiver, to say the least.
- 16.4 Points-Per-Game (131 points in eight games)
- 165.6 Passing Yards-Per-Game (1,325 passing yards in eight games)
- 4.23 Rushing Yards-Per-Game (1,124 rushing yards in eight games)
- 6 Passing Touchdowns, 9 Rushing Touchdowns in eight games
- 5 Interceptions, 14 Forced Fumbles, 7 Fumble Recoveries
- 30.63% Third Down Conversion Rate
Georgia’s defense is almost identical statistically to the National Champion runner-up the team had last season. The defense has only given up more than 20 points twice: once in a win against Missouri, and once in a loss to LSU. The defense doesn’t have a dominating player, as 11 players have more than 20 tackles and none over 50. DeAndre Baker is a potential first round pick at cornerback, while Jonathan Ledbetter returns on the defensive line. Honestly, though, Georgia’s defense doesn’t necessarily standout in many aspects. Their third down conversion rate is impressive, but other than that they don’t matchup to the next defense we’ll talk about.
- 13 Points-Per-Game (104 points in eight games)
- 186.75 Passing Yards-Per-Game (1,494 passing yards in eight games)
- 108.5 Rushing Yards-Per-Game (868 rushing yards in eight games)
- 6 Passing Touchdowns, 6 Rushing Touchdowns in eight games
- 7 Interceptions, 16 Forced Fumbles, 5 Fumble Recoveries
- 40% Third Down Conversion Rate
Kentucky is tied for the best scoring defense in the nation and may be the single best defense in college football. Coach Stoops has crafted a team that is well-coached, plays hard, and has NFL talent at almost every position. It all starts with dominance of Josh Allen, who recently showed up on ESPN’s Heisman Watch. Allen is simply one of the best, if not the best, defensive players in college football. Derrick Baity recently was recognized by PFF for his ability to stop big plays. Kentucky is giving up less than 300 yards-per-game, but they will face their biggest task to date Saturday.
- Third down conversions rate for Kentucky (on offense) since playing Murray State: 30%, 27%, 15%, 53% (Vandy), and 21%.
- Georgia has faced two top-20 scoring defenses (LSU, Florida) this season. Next up were Vandy T-57 and South Carolina 60.
- Kentucky has faced three of the top 32 defenses, including Miss State (ranked fourth), UF, and TAMU (32nd). Next up, also, were Vandy T-57 and South Carolina 60
- Mississippi State has given up nine touchdowns this year. Four of them were against Kentucky.
- Georgia has 10 sacks on defense this year, and 31 tackles-for-loss. Kentucky has 22 sacks on the season (10 by Josh Allen alone) and 46 tackles-for-loss.
Kentucky is playing for the right to call themselves the SEC East division winner. That sentence is the most exhilarating, yet most frightening statement I’ve ever written about Kentucky football. Everything can change after the final whistle. Either the ‘Cats play for the SEC crown in Atlanta or they don’t. Either way, they will still have the right to call themselves the best Kentucky football team in the last 40 years.
I can only see two outcomes for this game: Georgia’s offense rolls from the beginning of the game and puts it out of reach by halftime or the game goes down to the wire. If the game goes down to the wire, with all of the stats outlined in this article, I see the outcome being a Kentucky victory.
In 2007, there was a saying for the season that holds true now for myself and all of Big Blue Nation. We Believe.