A week after Lynn Bowden resurrected Kentucky’s season in a 24-20 win over Arkansas by playing a relatively seamless game at quarterback, Bowden’s next reward will be a shot at the Georgia Bulldogs. If rallying UK from a 13-0 deficit to the Razorbacks was difficult, Bowden may need to do everything but walk on water to upset No. 10 Georgia, fresh off a tough loss to South Carolina that is all but guaranteed to fire up the SEC East Division’s most talented team. Can Bowden pull it off?
First, the good news. Last week’s 20-17 double overtime loss to South Carolina showed that Georgia is actually human. The Bulldogs did turn the ball over four times, including a costly pick-six interception from QB Jake Fromm. That said, even in their one defeat, Georgia outgained Carolina by 171 yards and ended up with a loss only after All-SEC level kicker Rod Blankenship uncharacteristically missed a late field goal.
The remainder of Georgia’s season doesn’t represent such good news for Kentucky. Yes, Georgia survived with a six-point win over Notre Dame, but they crushed Tennessee by 29, thumped Vandy by 24, and embarrassed Arkansas State and FCS Murray State. Running backs DeAndre Swift and Zamir White are each capable of breaking a long run on any given play. Fromm had a bad week last week, but he’s no worse than the third best QB in the SEC.
Defensively, Kirby Smart’s outstanding recruiting classes leave Georgia as perhaps the toughest defense in the SEC, given the recent struggles of Alabama and LSU. It’s hard to name standouts when a team of five-star prospects is added each fall, and Georgia has several of those classes by now.
Georgia leads the SEC in rushing offense, rushing defense, and scoring defense. The Dogs have 15 sacks this year and have allowed only four. They are second in the SEC in red-zone offense and red-zone defense. Their kicking and return games are solid to exceptional, and they are as talented as anybody in the nation.
The Wildcats, meanwhile, seemed to find an offensive identity with Bowden, rushing for 330 yards in the win over Arkansas. That said, the defense had its struggles, especially a 74-yard run by Rakeem Boyd on the second play of the game. Those have to be cleaned up or Bowden will be in a shootout.
That said, the word is that Sawyer Smith may well be able to play. Will UK platoon the two QBs, or ride one or the other for the duration? Of course, the old axiom is that a team that has two quarterbacks has no quarterback, and Kentucky certainly wants to avoid falling into that trap.
If Kentucky wants to claim a season-making upset, they should follow the Carolina blueprint. Running is never going to be easy against UGA, but the Cats need a solid 150-200 yards. They could stand to pull a +4 on turnovers like the Gamecocks did, or in the alternative, to make some game-shifting plays on special teams. Finally, the Wildcats just need some plain old luck.
Could that happen? Stranger things have come to pass.
Will it happen?
Prediction here is UGA 44, UK 14.
Other SEC Predictions:
South Carolina 28, Florida 27
Auburn 52, Arkansas 17
LSU 38, Mississippi State 22
Missouri 45, Vanderbilt 13
Ole Miss 29, Texas A&M 24
Alabama 45, Tennessee 17
Joe Cox is contributing editor for KySportsStyle.com Magazine. He grew up in Letcher County and Bell County and has written eight books. His most recent, "A Fine Team Man: Jackie Robinson and the Lives He Changed," was released in February 2019 and can be ordered on Amazon or at many local bookstores. Joe is an attorney and lives in Logan County with his wife and children. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.