Keys to Georgia Vs. Kentucky

Josh Kendall breaks down the Georgia/Kentucky matchups as well as the keys to the game and of course, a prediction.

Georgia rush offense vs. Kentucky rush defense

The Bulldogs' running game has made great strides in the last month. Not only is Coach Mark Richt much happier with the way his backs are pass blocking, but they're running harder, too, he says. Georgia rushed for a season-high 202 yards against Florida and then followed that up with 45 carries against Auburn. Kentucky's rush defense is last in the SEC and 94th in the nation so look for the Bulldogs to go to ground again today.

Kentucky rush offense vs. Georgia pass defense

The Wildcats no longer have Artose Pinner, who rushed for 111 yards against the Bulldogs last year. This season, the Wildcats are led by Arliss Beach and his 37 yards per game. Beach is on a small roll as he was the only Wildcat to earn Coach Rich Brooks' praise following last week's loss to Vanderbilt. Beach had 109 yards, becoming the first Wildcat this season to eclipse 100 rushing yards, but Kentucky still averages just 137.5 yards per game on the ground (11th in SEC).

Georgia pass offense vs. Kentucky pass defense

The Wildcats' pass defense is much better than their run defense. Kentucky is fifth in the SEC and 27th in the nation in pass defense, but it's been more than a month since it has faced a passing game that rivals Georgia's. Strong safety Mike Williams (No. 1) is one of the 'Cats' most versatile defenders. He is third on the team in tackles (79), second in sacks (three) and has one interception and a forced fumble. Safety Muhammad Abdullah is the Wildcats' big-play man (four interceptions), but he's questionable with a deep thigh bruise.

Kentucky pass offense vs. Georgia pass defense

The Bulldogs have always struggled defending Kentucky's passing game. "I don't know if it's the matchups or the scheme or just (quarterback) Jared Lorenzen and (wide receiver Derek) Abney," Richt said. Lorenzen has averaged 371 yards passing in his three starts against the Bulldogs, but that number has dropped each of his three seasons. This season - Brooks' first - Lorenzen is averaging an uncharacteristically low 196.3 yards per game, but he does have 15 touchdowns.

Special Teams

Georgia has to be very afraid of Abney, who shares the NCAA record for most kicks returned for touchdowns in a career (eight). The Bulldogs' kick coverage has been awful this season, although it ranks just sixth in the league in returns allowed (20.8 ypr). Georgia may be helped that Billy Bennett's kickoffs have been so erratic because it might keep the ball out of Abney's hands. On punts, look for the Dogs to kick away from the senior. Kentucky leads the league in kickoff coverage, and punter Anthony Thornton averages 42.6 yards per kick (fifth in SEC). Georgia could get burned in this area.


Kentucky normally gives the Bulldogs fits, but these Wildcats have the look of a group that has folded the tents. That would be a help for Georgia because the Bulldogs need the Wildcats to lose not only today but also next week against Tennessee in order for Georgia to go to the SEC Championship game. The Bulldogs' good play this season has come in spurts (see Alabama and Tennessee) so look for another solid effort. Georgia 34, Kentucky 14.

Key to the Game

Special teams. The Bulldogs can't afford to give Kentucky any cheap scores, and Abney is the biggest special teams weapon in the nation today.

Offensive momentum. Georgia feels good about its offense, but a slow start could change all that in a unit that has shown it needs to get confidence early to succeed.

The Bulldogs' secondary. Georgia needs another good game in the defensive backfield to keep Kentucky grounded.

No. 6 Georgia (8-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) vs. Kentucky (4-6, 1-5)
Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. (JP)
Stadium: Sanford Stadium (92,058)
Tickets: Sold out
Kickoff weather: High in the low 70s with no chance of rain.
Series: Georgia leads 43-10-2
Odds: Georgia favored by 18
Injuries: Georgia - Probable: OL Josh Brock (neck), S Sean Jones (shoulder); Out: DT Kedric Golston (shoulder), OL Bartley Miller (shoulder). Kentucky - Probable: QB Shane Boyd (ankle); Questionable: LB
Ray Fontaine (ankle), CB Muhammad Abdullah (thigh); Doubtful: RB Andrew Hopewell (ankle).
Up next: Georgia at Georgia Tech, Nov. 29; Kentucky vs. Tennessee, Nov. 29

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