This weekend, the Kentucky Wildcats will be heading into Athens looking for another statement win from their conference slate. And it is worth noting that this year’s UK squad is not the type that we’re used to seeing.
So far this 2021-22 season, the Wildcats are 6-0 (a threshold not seen since the late coaching legend Paul “Bear” Bryant was in town). In that same stretch, they have obtained wins over LSU and a then-top-10 Florida.
But putting aside all of the lovely moments that Kentucky has seen this year, they still might be in trouble. While toppling the Gators is great, it takes another level of severity to beat the number-1 team in America on the road, after all.
If the Cats intend to escape Athens with a win over this UGA Football squad, then they must forget 2018. Now usually, a statement like that would make someone raise an eyebrow. However, glancing at the Georgia-Kentucky game from back then reveals something rather shocking.
What happened in 2018?
Three years ago, the Wildcats were on cloud nine. They were in the midst of unfolding their best season in decades, starting with a record of 7-1. Not only that but their resume had been headlined by a win over a ranked Florida up to that point.
All of this winning took Kentucky by storm, and it was incredible for fans to see their team in the top 12. They flaunted this newfound relevance as they headed into their meeting with Georgia who, too, was a powerhouse.
As for the Bulldogs, they were also 7-1 on the year with a win over Florida. But while they certainly looked impressive, they had failed to down anyone else of true merit. They had even suffered a blowout defeat at the hands of the LSU Tigers.
Kentucky knew this, and especially since they were set to host the meeting, the Wildcats geared up for what they thought was going to be a neck-at-neck duel–that is until it wasn’t.
The Dawgs had beaten down the Wildcats defensively before the second half of the game had even begun. At the break, Georgia had held UK to three measly points. While a pair of Kentucky touchdowns were piled on in the latter half of the affair, the Bulldogs still had them doubled up by the time the clock had hit zero. The final score read 34-17 in UGA’s favor.
The Similarities with 2021
So to summarize: 2018 Kentucky had their strongest start in years and got mean after stunning Florida, all just to fall heavily to the mighty Dawgs. But what about this time around?
This season has so far seen the Wildcats have their strongest start in years (sound familiar?). As previously established, they are 6-0 for the first time since 1950. What kickstarted their 2021 hype train? An upset win over the Florida Gators, just like the nation had witnessed three years prior. And now who do they play upon cracking the top 12? The incomparable Georgia Bulldogs. There is one problem, though: the Dawgs are much stronger nowadays.
While Georgia had much potential in 2018, they still appeared at least somewhat beatable after the way LSU had handled them by 20 points. However, this season has seen a Bulldogs squad that’s only given up three touchdowns halfway through their slate. As well as having already won a top-10 matchup with Arkansas 37-0. So even though Kentucky appears to have improved a good deal on their own end, UGA has climbed up the same ladder every step of the way.
The Takeaway for UGA Football
Kentucky is a good team, and they certainly deserve their current ranking of 11th in the country. But similarly to Auburn from last week, it’s one thing to be good, it’s another to be great, and Georgia falls into the latter.
Athens will be absolutely roaring for this one, as a top-11 matchup is still entertaining, regardless of any likely mismatches. And that atmosphere is going to help Georgia chew up the Cats and spit them out, with a score that should fall somewhere around 41-13.