College football game of the week preview and best bets: Kentucky Wildcats vs Georgia Bulldogs
As usual, the SEC has center stage on a college football weekend. This time it’s the top-ranked Georgia Bulldogs against the Kentucky Wildcats, with both teams coming in at 6-0. Although it may seem like a foregone conclusion that Georgia will be in the SEC Championship, it would need a lot of help from Kentucky if it somehow loses this game on Saturday.
Does Kentucky actually have a chance in this crucial SEC East contest? Or would simply covering the spread be a moral victory for the visitors? Let’s take a look
Breaking down the Wildcats
Kentucky is college football’s biggest surprise through six weeks of the season. The Wildcats were unspectacular through their first four games against unspectacular competition, which is why they did not get respect in the form of a national ranking until they knocked off then-No. 10 Florida 20-13 on Oct. 2. UK followed that up with a 42-21 rout of LSU, propelling it from 16th to 11th in the rankings.
Last Saturday’s performance against the Tigers marked Kentucky’s most impressive offensive showing of the year. Will Levis accounted for 5 touchdowns and now has 14 on the season (11 passing, 3 rushing). For the most part, however, the ‘Cats are getting the job done with defense. In their last three contests—all against SEC competition—they are allowing an average of 14.7 points.
Check out our preseason SEC predictions
Breaking down the Bulldogs
Of course, nobody plays better defense than Georgia—not even close. The Bulldogs are leading the nation by a country mile in total defense, yielding just 201.2 yards per game. They have an even more substantial lead of everyone else in points per game allowed at a meager 5.5 (Clemson and Cincinnati are next at 12.2). And—you guessed it—the Dawgs are also No. 1 in passing defense (137.0 yard per game allowed). Linebackers Adam Anderson, Nakobe Dean, Channing Tindall, and Nolan Smith have been outstanding, while defensive tackle Jordan Davis is a freak of nature.
Since surviving a defensive struggle with Clemson (10-3), UGA has been crushing opponents. However, quarterback JT Daniels has been banged up all season and his status for this week is unclear. Stetson Bennett has been serviceable filling in, but it remains to be seen how Bennet will fare against the stiffest competition.
Check out our college football futures report heading into Week 7
Predictions and best bets
The oddsmakers have been slow to catch on in terms of just how good the Dawgs are and I have been hammering them (and the under in their games) with much success. However, the market has finally adjusted and 23.5 points is a lot to give to a Kentucky team that is undefeated. I’ll take them getting 3+ touchdowns.
Even though I’m straying from the Bulldogs, I’m once again backing the under—and with more confidence than the UK ATS play. It’s hard to even quantify how low a total has to go in order to compensate for the dominance of UGA’s defense, and 44.5 is not low enough. Combine the most dominant unit in football with an in-form Kentucky defense facing either Bennett or a less than 100 percent Daniels and you can’t expect either side to put up a ton of points.
Georgia has won the least two head-to-head meetings 21-0 and 14-3. Don’t be surprised if something similar transpires on Saturday.
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