Georgia head coach Kirby Smart reacts on the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Georgia Tech, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

No. 1 Georgia Set to Host No. 20 Kentucky

Only one team will leave Sanford Stadium undefeated Saturday night, as No.1 Georgia (5-0) hosts No.20 Kentucky (5-0) in an SEC East matchup.

The Unpredictable Bulldogs

Although Georgia is undefeated, many are asking whether this is truly the No. 1 team in the nation. Despite a near-loss to Auburn last week, the Bulldogs are still 14.5-point favorites against the Wildcats.

Georgia dominated the passing game last week as Carson Beck threw for 313 yards, with tight end Brock Bowers being his main target. Bowers’ big performance was a game changer for Georgia. He amounted eight receptions for 157 yards and a touchdown. Bowers was then named the John Mackey Tight End of the Week.

While Georgia did have some offensive success, turnovers and a lack of rushing continued to plague the Bulldogs. They had an interception and a fumble with only 107 rushing yards. Georgia needs to protect the ball against Kentucky and try to match the dominant running game of Ray Davis.

The Dawgs have seven fumbles on the year, and Kentucky is tied for first in the SEC with four fumble recoveries. Kentucky will look to capitalize on Georgia’s mistakes. 

A strong point for Georgia could be stops on third down. Kentucky went 2-for-9 on third downs against Florida, and the Georgia defense held Auburn to only 2-of-12 on third down conversions.

This could allow the Bulldogs to get back into the game if Kentucky comes out with a big first quarter, which it has done against SEC opponents this year. The Wildcats scored 21 points in the first against Vanderbilt and 16 against Florida. 

The Winning Wildcats

Kentucky’s biggest asset heading to Athens is its running back Ray Davis. Davis leads the SEC and is fourth in the nation with 594 rushing yards on 76 attempts. Davis also has eight rushing touchdowns on the year. His success is attributed to Kentucky’s Big Blue Wall. The offensive line looked impressive last week against a solid Florida defense. The Wildcats’ O-line created many holes for Davis and allowed their offense to move downfield efficiently.

On the other side of the ball, Kentucky’s defense has been able provide crucial sacks. The Cats have 14 sacks on the year to Georgia’s eight, and opposing teams have lost 113 yards due to this. Applying quarterback pressure and slowing down Georgia’s passing game will make Georgia run the ball, which it hasn’t done effectively all year. 

Even though Kentucky can make big defensive plays, whether or not it will be able to stop Georgia’s passing game is in question. Graham Mertz completed 83.3% of his passes against the Wildcats’ defense last week, and Florida’s offense gained a lot of momentum off those plays. Kentucky cannot allow Beck and Bowers the same success.

Game Time

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

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