Kentucky football on the brink heading into matchup with No.1 Georgia


Isabel McSwain

Kentucky Wildcats defensive back Tyrell Ajian (6) grabs Vanderbilt Commodores wide receiver Quincy Skinner Jr. (3) during the Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt football game on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky. UK lost 24-21. Photo by Isabel McSwain | Staff

Cole Parke, Sports Editor

Kentucky football has its back against the ropes heading into its final two games of the season.

The Wildcats are coming fresh off a devastating upset loss at home against Vanderbilt, a game many fans were certain the Cats would win as the Commodores hadn’t won an SEC matchup since 2019 and had suffered six-straight losses against UK.

With the No. 1 team in the country traveling to Lexington in less than a week, Kentucky is staring down the barrel of a 6-5 record going into the 2022 Governor’s Cup battle against Louisville in the final week of the season.

Georgia is one of only four teams left this college football season that has yet to suffer defeat, coming close on a number of occasions but ultimately prevailing every single time. This includes a 27-13 win over then No. 1 Tennessee, who had just beat Kentucky 44-6 the week prior.

The Bulldogs have no lack of talent, boasting reigning offensive College Football Playoff National Championship MVP Stetson Bennet at quarterback, with the now senior arm throwing for 2,895 yards this season for 14 touchdowns and five interceptions. His 84.9 quarterback rating is seventh in the country.

To give a comparison, Kentucky’s quarterback, Will Levis, has thrown for 2,012 yards this season for 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Levis’ quarterback rating of 54.3 is 73rd in the country, despite him being projected as high as No. 1 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft.

On the ground, Georgia has six rushers that have run for over 100 yards this season, four of which have rushed for over 200 and two of which have over 400 yards on the ground.

The Bulldogs are led by running back Daijon Edwards, who has amassed 497 rushing yards for seven touchdowns, averaging 5.3 yards per carry.

Kentucky, on the other hand, has four rushers over 100 yards but the run game mainly relies on Chris Rodriguez Jr., who has rushed for 733 yards this season. Behind Rodriguez Jr. is running back Kavosiey Smoke, who has just 277 rushing yards this season.

Rodriguez Jr. averages 5.5 yards per carry, though with most of the weight of the offense consistently falling on his shoulders, he may struggle against Georgia.

The Bulldogs have a good offense, but that is far from what Georgia is typically known for.

The UGA defense has allowed an average of just 11.6 points per game to be scored against it, including the aforementioned 13 against Tennessee, which is often regarded as one of the best offenses in the country, and three against Oregon, who up until last week was a College Football Playoff hopeful.

To make matters even worse for Kentucky, the Bulldogs have 17 sacks this season, almost averaging two per game, a worrying sign for a UK team that has given up 40 sacks this season, one of the worst figures in all of the FBS.

None of that is even to mention UGA’s ace up its sleeve, tight end Brock Bowers, who has received 39 passes for 615 yards and four touchdowns, easily cementing himself as a potential top five draft pick and even potential Heisman candidate.

All that being said, it’s little surprise than for many Kentucky fans the question is not, ‘Will Kentucky lose to Georgia?’ but, ‘How much will Kentucky lose by?’

It’s possible that the Wildcats do pull the upset, Kentucky has home field advantage and plenty of talent on the roster despite the struggles, but whether or not they will or not is yet to be seen, though the chances are not high.

ESPN currently favors the Bulldogs by 93%, with Vegas putting the betting line at Georgia being a 22.5-point favorite.

Kentucky and Georgia will kick off at 3 p.m. EST at Kroger Field in Lexington, with the contest airing live on CBS.