Kentucky Week: Game Preview

ATHENS -Dawg Post's look at Georgia's game with Kentucky.

Georgia (6-4, 4-3) vs. Kentucky
Where: Athens
When: 7:45 p.m., ESPN2
Last meeting: Georgia 42, Kentucky 38, Nov. 8, 2008.

Georgia: Joe Cox hasn't thrown an interception in the past two weeks, and not surprisingly, Georgia is 2-0. Avoiding turnovers remains key for Georgia, and Cox's increased ball security and the resurgence of the Bulldogs' running game have things pointed in the right direction. On the downside, however, Georgia will be without star receiver A.J. Green, who suffered a shoulder sprain a week ago.

Kentucky: Starting quarterback Mike Hartline will miss the remainder of the season after surgery, meaning true freshman Warren Newton will step in this week hoping to give Kentucky its third straight road win. Newton's role may not be extensive, however, as the Wildcats rank 17th nationally, averaging more than 200 yards per game on the ground. But it's Randall Cobb – the Wildcats' do-it-all receiver and runner – that will be UK's biggest offensive weapon.

EDGE: Georgia


Georgia: The Bulldogs struggled early against Auburn last week, but found their stride after the first two drives and held the Tigers' to just three offensive points the rest of the way. More impressive was the ability to stop Auburn's running game while creating strong pressure, including three sacks and nine tackles for a loss. It's also worth noting that Georgia has yet to allow a 100-yard rusher this season.

Kentucky: The Wildcats don't lack for talent on the defensive side of the ball, including Trevard Lindley, a cornerback with an NFL future, and linebacker Micah Johnson, who checks in at a whopping 260 pounds. Kentucky has done a nice job stopping opponents' passing attacks, but the run defense has been more problematic. Florida and Mississippi State each ran for more than 300 yards against Kentucky this season.

EDGE: Georgia

Special teams:

Georgia: Drew Butler continues to lead the nation in punting, while Blair Walsh has been nearly perfect on field goals. But Georgia's coverage units continue to struggle, as evidenced by Demond Washington's 99-yard touchdown on a kick return last week against Auburn. Georgia ranks 118th in the nation in kickoff coverage. Kentucky: Cobb is a weapon on offense, but as Kentucky's punt returner and holder, he offers plenty of danger for the Bulldogs on special teams, too. Kentucky averages nearly 13 yards per punt return and nearly 24 yards per return on kickoffs. That could be a dangerous dynamic against Georgia's beleaguered kick coverage team.

EDGE: Georgia


Georgia: Mark Richt has started poorly and finished strong before, and he's hoping his team is poised to repeat the 2006 season when the Bulldogs won their final three games. After a 4-4 start, Richt has rallied his troops to two straight wins, and a victory tonight would lock up a second place finish in the SEC East for the Bulldogs.

Kentucky: Rich Brooks may be getting a bit more heat this season in Kentucky, but there's no denying that he's done a remarkable job of turning around the typically moribund program. The Wildcats are bowl eligible for the fourth straight season, and a win over Georgia could add even more to Brooks' growing resume.

EDGE: Georgia

Key matchups

Offense: Washaun Ealey and Caleb King vs. Kentucky's run defense. The Wildcats rank 98th nationally in rushing defense, allowing nearly 180 yards per game on the ground. Meanwhile, Georgia's running game has been rejuvenated in the past month, with the tailbacks adding more than 130 yards on the ground in each of the past four games. Ealey and King combined for three touchdowns a week ago.

Defense: Willie Martinez vs. Randall Cobb. A year ago, Cobb nearly beat Georgia single-handedly, as Georgia appeared completely unprepared for his athleticism and ability to break tackles. Last year he was at quarterback. This year, he'll be all over the field, playing running back, wide receiver and lining up in the Wildcat package.

Prediction: Georgia 27, Kentucky 20

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