JOE COX: Georgia Opportunity Feels More Like Punishment for Wildcats
Before the season, Kentucky hoped to reach its final SEC game—Saturday against Georgia—with a role still to play in the SEC East race. Those hopes have not come to fruition, after a disappointing season that hit bottom with a stunning loss to Vanderbilt last week in Lexington.
At 6-4, Kentucky’s matchup with No. 1 Georgia—which once looked like a big opportunity—now feels more like punishment. There is no need to gild the lily.
Georgia (10-0) is the best team in college football. As the defending champions, UGA and Kirby Smart finally overcame the one real knock against them—that they hadn’t won the big game. Now that they have, Georgia in 2022 is just as daunting as the team that won the title a year ago.
Last year, Georgia’s defense was historically good. This year’s edition is just very, very good. A year ago, Georgia allowed 10.2 points per game. This year, it’s 11.6. A year ago, Georgia was second in the country in yardage allowed. This year, they’re sixth.
But Georgia’s offense is dangerous, too. The Bulldogs throw the ball well with veteran QB Stetson Bennett. They run it well with a variety of backs, who should still be fresh and healthy.
It’s unclear how much gas Kentucky has left in the tank. Will Levis is badly hobbled and has had a couple of poor games in the last month. Chris Rodriguez Jr. is running hard, but Georgia’s defensive line figures to be a stark challenge to a Kentucky offensive line that has been dominated by virtually all foes. Meanwhile, Kentucky’s defense has been pretty significantly banged up, and it’s not clear how many of UK’s linebackers and defensive backs will be healthy.
Under the best of circumstances, Georgia would be a significant challenge. This is not the best of circumstances for Kentucky by a long shot. About the best that Kentucky can hope for in this game is to avoid embarrassment or significant injuries and leave Kentucky in a decent frame of mind for Louisville next weekend.
Other SEC Predictions:
Alabama 52, Austin Peay 3
Mississippi State 48, East Tennessee St. 7
Texas A&M 40, UMass 7
Florida 38, Vanderbilt 20
Auburn 31, Western Kentucky 28
Tennessee 49, South Carolina 10
Ole Miss 34, Arkansas 17
Missouri 42, New Mexico State 13
LSU 35, UAB 20
Joe Cox is contributing editor for KySportsStyle.com Magazine. He grew up in Letcher County and Bell County and has written or co-written nine 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 email@example.com.