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UGA vs. Kentucky Preview and Prediction – October 7, 2023

UGA vs. Kentucky Preview and Prediction – October 7, 2023

UGA VS. KENTUCKY PREVIEW AND PREDICTION – OCTOBER 7, 2023 — It’s Dawgs versus Cats in Athens at 7 p.m. Saturday in a battle for first place in the SEC East. It’s amazing what a month can do to your expectations in college football. At the beginning of the year, everyone was talking about how easy Georgia’s schedule was. Now they’re staring down most of the remainder of the season being against ranked opponents, with Vandy and the little brothers in Atlanta being the only exceptions.

And now, many are anticipating a Kentucky upset after a dominating performance from UK against Florida last week. Ray Davis ran all over the Gator defense for the tune of nearly 300 yards. Meanwhile, every time Auburn ran a read option, UGA defenders were more hesitant to make a move than a boy at a middle school dance. The Dawgs gave up just over 200 yards rushing against a team who couldn’t move the ball against Texas A&M.

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Plus, history would say that these Mark Stoops teams play Georgia closely. Last year’s Dawgs only managed to win by 10, while scoring a whopping 16 points. Everyone loves a game where there are five times more field goals than touchdowns. Kirby Smart has said for years that Kentucky is one of the most, if not the most, physically demanding games on the schedule each year. Stoops makes sure his boys are ready to play and will take the air out of the ball to win.

Georgia is worse than last year, and Kentucky seems to be better. So, is this the year the Cats can take down the Dawgs? Let’s take a look.

The Odds







(5-0 SU, 4-1 ATS)






(5-0 SU, 1-4 ATS)






When: Saturday, October 7th at 7:30 pm EDT

Where: Sanford Stadium, Athens, Ga.


Public Bets: Kentucky, 60%

Public Money: Kentucky, 65%

Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of October 6th, 2023.

Kentucky on Offense

Think of the most dominant pitcher in baseball you know. They probably have five pitches in their arsenal, using two to three most of the time. Every now and then, they’ll pull out their fourth or even fifth pitch to get an out when needed. The challenge for hitters is that every pitch looks the same coming out of the pitcher’s hand, so it’s hard to know what’s coming. A pitch looks like a fastball, but then you swing and realize it was actually a slider diving away from you.

That’s kind of how Kentucky runs the ball. They can be in the same formation and block their run 6 different ways. They’ll run power, split-zone, zone, trap, counter; you name it, they’ll run it. Auburn made UGA defenders hesitate with the read option and disguising blocks. Kentucky is going to make UGA find the ball. The Wildcats will hit your linemen from all directions so they never know what’s coming next. If you aren’t careful, you can get beat up and you won’t know which 300-pound behemoth is going to attack you next. Ray Davis isn’t exactly fun to tackle at 215 pounds either.

Cats’ Receivers Struggling to Catch

Devin Leary comes in as a senior quarterback who has struggled. In two SEC games, he has finished with completion percentages of 51% and 47%. He had a pretty nice game against Eastern Kentucky, but no other game is worth writing home about.

Kentucky has some guys who can create an explosive play on the outside if Leary can get them the ball. Trayvon Robinson and Barion Brown are both smaller playmakers, while Dane Key provides some size on the perimeter at 6’3″. They all average near or above 15 yards per catch.

Catching the ball, however, has been the issue for Brown and Robinson. They’re guilty of too many drops.

The Defense

Defensively, UK will present the toughest challenge for UGA so far this year. It starts up front with Deone Walker, UK’s version of Jordan Davis. Walker possesses a similar combination of size and agility that is incredibly rare to find.

However, UK uses him differently than Georgia used Davis. Kentucky will move Walker around to different places on the line to create matchup problems. Josiah Hayes helps the Cats shut down the run, and Khalil Saunders has brought pressure on quarterbacks. Don’t forget All-SEC name Octvious Oxendine, who continues to improve.

Related: UGA vs. Auburn Recap

At the next level, Trevin Wallace has become one of the best inside backers in the league. Defensive back Maxwell Hairston won National Defensive Player of the Week for his two-interception performance two weeks ago. He has been a pleasant surprise in the secondary. 

The Dawgs

Georgia is improving in some areas and regressing in others. Turnovers have plagued the Dawgs this year, which has limited their offense’s effectiveness. Carson Beck has shown improvement week over week this year. His 3rd down completion percentage is among the best in the country. UK absolutely cannot let him drop back and comfortably throw even on 3rd and long. Auburn didn’t bring pressure and paid for it, because you can only defend Brock Bowers for so long.

Beck needs to start faster. His QB rating goes up as the game goes along, but he needs to get there quicker. UK is one of the best teams in the nation at scoring in the first quarter. UGA is one of the worst. Last year, UGA typically got a two-score lead early in games and wore teams out as the game went on. So far this year, UGA is playing catch up throughout the game.

UK is not the team to mess around with, and one key to victory in this game will be who takes the lead early. UGA will look to the passing game to open up the run, but I suspect UK will likely make UGA mostly one-dimensional on offense. If Georgia becomes one-dimensional on offense and turns the ball over, the Dawgs are in trouble. If UGA can finally find Ladd McConkey, RaRa Thomas, or Arian Smith on a deep ball in the first quarter, they’ll soften up the UK front and make life much easier for the offense.

The Defense

Defensively, UGA is in an interesting spot. The Dawgs’ secondary is formidable, and Javon Bullard is getting healthier. I doubt he’ll be 100% for this game, but he played every snap last week against Auburn, despite looking a touch slower than usual at times.

Georgia’s front seven is the key in this match up. The good news for the Dawgs is that UGA’s defensive line has done a good job of plugging holes and gaps. Unfortunately, the linebackers have not consistently fulfilled their roles. Jamon Dumas-Johnson is dinged up, and it’s slowing down a guy who already is a slight liability on speed. What JDJ does well is that he strikes forcefully. Outside linebacker Chaz Chambliss has had an up-and-down performance this year too, but his strength, again, is striking blockers and being physical. Smael Mondon also needs to step up at inside backer.

I think Georgia can match UK’s physicality; the question will be for how long. UGA doesn’t have the bodies to rotate on the defensive line like they have in years past. Experienced depth isn’t there. Georgia is getting inconsistent linebacker play. If the Dawgs can get UK into passing downs, they should feast with their speed rushers. If UK is living in 3rd and short while maintaining a close game, I think the Cats can wear down the Dawg front line and take over by the 4th.

Kentucky starts and finishes well. The middle is a mixed bag. Georgia is the opposite, doing their best work in the 2nd and 3rd quarters.

Match Up

This game could be a defining moment in the season for the Dawgs. They have shot themselves in the foot, but they have overcome their mistakes. Georgia got fooled against Auburn, which showed a lot it had not put on tape. They overcame that as well.

Like Auburn, this game presents two plausible scenarios. In the first possible scenario, UGA starts slow, as it has all year, struggles to stop the run, and finds itself in a slugfest it might or might not pull out. The other likely scenario is that UGA finally starts well, and while it doesn’t win easily, the Dawgs do hold an early lead and finally begin to look like the team everyone thought they were.

I know every week is different in this league, where one team can look inept one week and impressive the next. But I still believe that the greatest predictor of future behavior is past behavior. And that means UGA will start slow, commit a costly turnover or two, and have to fight this one out.

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Sanford Stadium at night can prove to be an imposing atmosphere. Georgia’s biggest advantage in this matchup is their home field. I think the atmosphere and Brock Bowers do enough to propel the Dawgs to victory. History says this will be another nail-biter, so that’s what I’m predicting.

Dawgs Win: 27-21.


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