Lexington, KY – Lexington, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - The Kentucky Wildcats will play their final home game of the season on Saturday afternoon when they welcome the 17th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs to Commonwealth Stadium for an SEC clash.
Heading into last week's matchup with Florida, Georgia had won five straight games and had its sights set on an SEC Eastern Division crown, but it fell flat in the crucial matchup and suffered a 38-20 setback.
"We started out playing pretty good football," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "But as the game went on, I don't think we lost effort, but we definitely lost execution. I think both teams played hard but (Florida) executed better than we did."
The Bulldogs are now 6-2 overall, and at 4-2 in league play are looking up at Missouri (4-1) in the conference standings.
"All I know is we've got to get ready," Richt continued. "Nobody in this league feels sorry for the other team, I can tell you that. Kentucky is going to be excited about getting us in their house and continuing to play the kind of ball they've been playing."
Kentucky started the season on a very promising note with victories in five of its first six games, a win total greater than its 2012 and 2013 campaigns combined. Since then however, the Wildcats have dropped three straight to fall to 2-4 in the SEC, most recently losing at Missouri, 20-10.
"The wheels aren't falling off. We barely had them on," Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. "Anybody that didn't understand that is sadly mistaken, including our players. We've got to scratch and claw and fight and dig down for everything that we get. To think that you're going to go out there and hope that (wins) happen, we're mistaken."
Georgia has a firm handle on the all-time series with Kentucky, 53-12-2. Its 59-17 rout last November was its fourth straight win over the Wildcats.
The Bulldogs' offense this season has been outstanding, as they put up 40.5 ppg and 440.0 ypg. Usually the unit skews towards a run-heavy approach (250.2 ypg), but in a comeback effort last week it had just 141 rushing yards to 319 passing.
Todd Gurley (773 yards, eight TDs) has missed the last three games while serving a suspension and will be eligible to return on Nov. 15. Luckily for the Bulldogs Nick Chubb has been great in Gurley's absence, picking up 725 yards and six touchdowns on 120 carries.
Hutson Mason finished with a career high in completions (26), attempts (41) and yards (319) last week, but the team is at its best when he's not asked to shoulder the load. On the season he's completing just shy of 68 percent of his throws and has tossed only three picks, but he has just 1,341 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The modest receiving corps is led by Michael Bennett (28 receptions, 291 yards, four TDs) and Chris Conley (22 receptions, 385 yards, three TDs).
Defensively, Georgia has impressed for the most part in allowing 22.2 ppg and 336.1 ypg, while forcing 18 turnovers, but it had no answer for Florida's rushing attack the last time out, giving up over 400 yards on the ground.
The strength of the unit comes at linebacker, with Amarlo Herrera (68 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 3.0 sacks), Ramik Wilson (60 tackles, 5.5 TFL, sack), Jordan Jenkins (46 tackles, 7.0 TFL, 3.5 sacks) and Leonard Floyd (43 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 5.0 sacks) all in the midst of strong campaigns. Damian Swann and Quincy Mauger have three interceptions apiece.
While Kentucky's offense is much improved from years past (29.2 ppg, 407.8 ypg), the unit has struggled of late in scoring 10 points or less in two of its last three, and last week it amassed only 258 yards.
Patrick Towles brings stability to the quarterback position. He's completing less than 60 percent of his passes, but he throws for nearly 250 yards per game with 17 touchdowns (four rushing) to just five interceptions.
Ryan Timmons is Towles' most trusted target with 40 receptions for 493 yards and two touchdowns. Demarco Robinson (25 receptions, 395 yards, TD) and Javess Blue (18 receptions, 346 yards, four TDs) have been effective deep threats.
The Wildcats employ a stable of rushers, with five players piling up at least 200 yards and two touchdowns but no one producing more than Jojo Kemp's 313 yards and four scores.
Against some stiff competition this season, Kentucky's defense has performed well in yielding 24.2 ppg and 371.2 ypg. The unit kept last week's game close by holding Missouri to just 20 points and 320 yards.
The defense has picked off 13 passes, with Marcus McWilson and A.J. Stamps registering three interceptions each. Josh Forrest is not only the team's top tackler (75) but he's tallied 7.0 TFL, two interceptions, a sack and a forced fumble as well. Alvin Dupree is a mainstay on the defensive line with 8.5 TFL and 5.5 sacks.