Georgia Bulldogs (6-2 SU, 4-4 ATS) vs. Kentucky Wildcats (5-4 SU, 6-3 ATS)
College Football Week 11
Date and Time: Saturday, November 8, 2014 at 12:00PM EST
Where: Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington, Kentucky
by Scott, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: GEO -10/KEN +10
Over/Under Total: 58.5
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In an SEC conference matchup, the Georgia Bulldogs come into Lexington to face the Kentucky Wildcats. Georgia is 6-2 and still ranked at 20th, but they are coming off a deflating 38-20 loss to Florida on Saturday. Meanwhile, Kentucky is coming off a 20-10 loss to Missouri, their third loss in a row after a promising 5-1 start to the season.
Despite consecutive losses to LSU, Mississippi State, and Missouri, this is still a good year for Kentucky football. After a 2-10 season in 2013 where they only beat Miami-Ohio and Alabama State, they won 2 conference games this season, with wins over Vandy and a surprise win over South Carolina. Against top-ranked Mississippi State, they lost respectably, 45-31. Its more than safe to say they are a program on the rise under 2nd year head coach Mark Stoops.
Georgias performance on Saturday was puzzling. Sure, they are still without top playmaker Todd Gurley, as this game marks the end of his suspension. And while Nick Chubb is no Gurley, you could do a lot worse with a fill-in, as Chubb has been adept at springing loose some big runs. But as bad as their offense was on Saturday, its nothing compared to a defense that allowed 418 yards on the ground to the Gators, a team whose offense had been struggling all season to move the ball.
Georgia was looking to make a big late push and with one loss, anything was possible. For them to come up so short against what had been a dilapidated Florida squad was really alarming. Then again, maybe Georgia wasnt as good as we all thought. Sure, they looked impressive with an opening week win against Clemson. And a few weeks ago, a 34-0 demolition of Missouri was another good sign. But their schedule hasnt been all that tough and we will see what theyre made of now, with this game and meetings with Auburn and ranked Georgia Tech coming next.
Georgia doesnt have the passing attack they had under Aaron Murray. Hutson Mason is more of an efficient sort, but is able to make some connections to Chris Conley and Michael Bennett in the pass-game. With 6 yards per carry, the run-game is the Bulldogs strong-suit, something that isnt the same in the absence of Gurley. Either way, they remain the 11th best scoring team in college football with an average of 40.5 points per game, while allowing only an average of 22.3 a game.
Kentucky has a good sophomore quarterback in Patrick Towles, who is growing and gaining experience every week. Against some of the better teams, he has struggled, but still managed to throw for 390 yards against Mississippi State. But Georgia is rather robust against the pass, allowing an average of just 191 yards per game. Kentucky is even better in that area at 14th, allowing just 183 yards per game aerially. The big problem for Kentucky is that they allow more rushing yardage on average than passing yardage. Even without Gurley, that could become a big issue on Saturday.
Georgia was heading toward the SEC championship game before betting outgunned in almost all facets by the Gators on Saturday. Look for their defense to rebound this week. Usually, they are pretty good at creating turnovers, with 18 this season. Amarlo Herrera, Ramik Wilson, and Leonard Floyd should all have big games on the Georgia defense this week.
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Still, the Kentucky offense has made major strides, as Towles continues to improve on his aerial presence. He has a lot of nice weapons at his disposal. Jojo Kemp and and Braylon Heard are a nice 1-2 punch at running back. WR Javess Blue has 4 TD receptions on just 18 catches and is a nice vertical threat. Wideout Ryan Timmons has a team-high 40 catches and could come up big in this game. Towles also has DeMarco Robinson, another consistent producer in the passing game.
The Kentucky defense has been decidedly average this season, which is actually a major improvement over recent seasons. Against Florida, they gave up 36, while allowing 38 to South Carolina, 41 to LSU, and 45 to Mississippi State. But after allowing only 20 points to a road Missouri team on Saturday, they could be rounding into shape.
Kentucky has improved and already accomplished some things this year they can hang their hats on moving forward. But there is still work to be done. A bowl berth would be nice, something they still need to work towards. Theyre going to need another win and with Georgia, Tennessee, and Louisville remaining on the schedule, nothing is guaranteed. But Georgias goals are even bigger, an outside chance to win the SEC East or at least gain a major bowl berth. Despite major gains made this season by the Wildcats, I see the ticked-off Bulldogs winning by a double-digit margin and covering the spread.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Georgia Bulldogs minus 10 points.