UK Football

Blue Preview: UK seeks street cred, bowl eligibility vs. Georgia

Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson is 4-1 as a starter in Southeastern Conference games.
Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson is 4-1 as a starter in Southeastern Conference games. Associated Press

Georgia at Kentucky

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Commonwealth Stadium

TV: SEC Network (play-by-play Brent Musburger; analyst Jesse Palmer; sideline Kaylee Hartung)

Radio: WLAP AM-630, WBUL FM-98.1, XM Channel 190, Sirius Channel 83

Records: Georgia (4-4, 2-4 SEC), Kentucky (5-3, 4-2 SEC)

Series history: Georgia leads 55-12-2

Last meeting: Georgia won 27-3 on Nov. 7, 2015, in Athens

Favorite: Georgia is favored by two points

The storyline

Kentucky seeks to become bowl-eligible for the first time since 2010 and to secure a winning SEC record for the first time since 1977 against a Georgia team that has lost four of its last five games under first-year head coach Kirby Smart.

On the spot

The UK run defense. After a celebrated Georgia rushing attack that features standout backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel rushed for a grand total of 21 yards against Florida, it seems likely Bulldogs offensive coordinator Jim Chaney will come to Lexington determined to reestablish the Georgia ground game. It will be incumbent on a Kentucky defensive front that has shown improvement in recent weeks to slow that plan down.

The big threat

Nick Chubb entered the season considered a Heisman Trophy candidate, but the Georgia tailback star is presently 11th in the SEC in rushing (606 yards, a pedestrian 4.85 yards a carry, a far cry from the 8.1 he averaged last year). So far in 2016, Chubb looks little like the back who gashed Louisville for 266 yards in the Belk Bowl two seasons ago. Kirby Smart says Chubb has no ill effects from surgery after suffering a significant knee injury last year against Tennessee. Expect a highly motivated Chubb in Commonwealth Stadium.

The mood

Perked up substantially after Kentucky scored a rare, for it, two-touchdown SEC road win at Missouri. A victory over Georgia, an old-line SEC power that Kentucky has beaten only three times (1996, 2006, 2009) in the past 25 years would legitimize UK’s improvement. Kentucky has not had a home crowd larger than 57,230 this season. Will be fascinating to see if the Big Blue Nation answers Mark Stoops’ plea and shows up in a big way to support the Wildcats — who have won five of their last six.

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