USA Today/Dale Zanine

Breaking down the Kentucky Wildcats' SEC East clash with the Georgia Bulldogs

Everything you need to know about Kentucky's matchup with Georgia on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium. The Wildcats are one win away from bowl eligibility and clinching their first winning SEC record in four decades.

KENTUCKY vs. GEORGIA

WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 5, 7:30 ET

WHERE: Commonwealth Stadium (61,000) Lexington, Ky.

TV: SEC Network

RECORDS: Kentucky (5-3, 4-2 SEC); Georgia (4-4, 2-4 SEC)

COACHES: Kentucky - Mark Stoops (4th year, 17-27, 0-3 vs UGA); Georgia - Kirby Smart (1st year, 4-4, 0-0 vs UK)

RANKINGS: Kentucky NR; Georgia NR

LAST GAME: Kentucky defeated Missouri 35-21 last week in Columbia, Mo.; Georgia lost 24-10 to Florida last week in Jacksonville, Fla.

LINE: Georgia -2.5

SERIES RECORD: Georgia leads 55-12-2  (Bulldogs won 27-3 last year in Athens, Ga.)

BIG BLUE KEYS TO THE GAME:

When Kentucky has the ball… The Cats will attempt to replicate the blueprint they've used during their three-game SEC winning streak -- a dominant ground attack mixed with some timely big plays from the passing game -- against a Georgia defense that ranks fourth in the league against the run (109.8 ypg) and fourth in total defense (326.1 ypg). It's a much better defensive unit than the ones that UK has faced in its four SEC wins. That comes as little surprise after UGA hired Kirby Smart away from Alabama, where he was the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach under Nick Saban from 2007-15, a time span that included four national championships. The Dawgs are led by linebackers Natrez Patrick (No. 6, 6-3, 238, Soph.) and Roquan Smith (No. 3, 6-1, 225, Soph.), who pace the team with 49 and 48 tackles, respectively. Up front, defensive tackle Trenton Thompson (No. 78, 6-4, 309, Soph.) has 35 tackles, 5.0 TFLs and 2.0 sacks. He'll be a great matchup to watch against UK's strong interior linemen, including center Jon Toth and guards Nick Haynes and Jervontius Stallings. Last week, Haynes graded out as one of the top two guards in the nation with his play against Missouri. They'll be clearing the path for the two-headed backfield of Boom Williams (821 yards, 7.5 ypc) and Benny Snell (661 yards, 8 TD) who last week became only the second SEC tandem to each top 175 yards in a league game during the last 10 years. Look for the Cats to set up the run with the pass at times. UGA is allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 61.1 percent of their passes, the second-highest figure in the SEC. Only Tennessee, UK and Mississippi State have given up more TD passes (12) this season, but the Dawgs do have nine interceptions.

When Georgia has the ball…  The Dawgs have a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball, but it hasn't led to the type of production that many fans and media predicted going into the season. Despite a roster that features a pair of future NFL backs in Nick Chubb (No. 27, 5-10, 228, Jr.) and Sony Michel (No. 1, 5-11, 222, Jr.) and one of the top quarterback signees in the nation in Jacob Eason, UGA hasn't found the cohesion to utilize all of it. The Dawgs are 12th in the SEC in scoring offense (23.2 ppg), eighth in rushing offense (173.8 ypg) and 11th in passing offense (199.2 ypg).  Part of that is due to an offensive line that has not performed to the program's typical lofty standards. It's a matchup that the improving UK defensive line has to take advantage of on Saturday. The Cats' defensive staff says keeping Eason (No. 10, 6-5, 235, Fr.) inside the pocket will be a key factor to watch. The strong-armed freshman has 1,509 yards passing and 10 touchdowns in his first year at UGA. He is very good at making things happen on the move and rolling out of the pocket waiting for coverage to break down. However, the good news for UK is that Eason is not a major threat to run with the ball. 

MILESTONE WATCH:

Kentucky junior Garrett Johnson has 1,271 career receiving yards and is 18th all-time on the school's career list. He needs just 19 yards to pass Chris Matthews... With nine more yards, fellow junior wideout Jeff Badet would have 1,220 career yards to move past Phil Logan (1978-80) for 20th on the UK all-time list.

ON THIS DAY IN UK HISTORY:

Kentucky defeated Ole Miss 30-13 on Nov. 5, 2011, at Commonwealth Stadium. The Wildcats rallied from a three-point deficit entering the fourth quarter on the strength of a pair of Maxwell Smith touchdown passes to La'Rod King and Gene McCaskill and a touchdown run by Coshik Williams, who rushed for 111 yards and two scores. Current Chicago Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan led the UK defense with 17 tackles and an interception.

NOTES:

  • Kentucky needs one more SEC win to clinch its first winning season in league play since 1977 when the Cats went 6-0. UK has gone 3-3 twice and 4-4 on four occasions since then, but has not broken the .500 mark.
  • UK is averaging 299 yards rushing per game over the last three SEC games (258 vs Vanderbilt, 262 vs Mississippi State and 377 vs Missouri).
  • The Cats are last in the SEC in turnover margin at minus-11; the Dawgs are tied for first at plus-6.
  • Kentucky has 10 Peach State natives on its roster, including starting running back Boom Williams and starting defensive tackle Courtney Miggins.
  • The Dawgs rushed for a season-high 300 yards in last year's 27-3 win over UK, including a career-high 165 for Michel.

AW PREDICTION:

Kentucky 26, Georgia 22


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