UK Football

Blue Preview: Can UK slow Georgia Tech’s run game, earn bowl win?

TaxSlayer Bowl: Kentucky vs. Georgia Tech

When: 11 a.m., Saturday

Where: Everbank Field, Jacksonville, Fla.

TV: ESPN (play-by-play Mark Jones; analysis Rod Gilmore; sideline Quint Kessenich

Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1, XM Channel 201, Sirius Channel 83

Records: Kentucky 7-5 (4-4 SEC); Georgia Tech 8-4 (4-4 ACC)

Series: Georgia Tech leads the series between the former SEC rivals 11-7-1

Last meeting: Georgia Tech won 23-13 in Atlanta on Sept. 17, 1960

Favorite: Georgia Tech is favored by three points

The storyline

Kentucky tries to extend the good feelings that followed its season-ending upset of then-No. 11 Louisville by slowing the Georgia Tech triple-option attack and earning the Wildcats’ first bowl victory since the 2008 season (Liberty Bowl).

On the spot

The UK run defense. A Kentucky defense that is tied for 108th (of 128 teams) in the FBS against the run (allowing 225 yards a game) confronts Coach Paul Johnson’s ground-hugging Georgia Tech triple-option attack that is 10th in the country (257.4 yards a game) in rushing.

The big threat

Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas (562 net yards rushing, five touchdowns) is the decision maker whose reads make the Yellow Jackets’ triple-option rushing attack go. When defenses get lulled to sleep by the Tech ground attack, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior from Prattville, Ala., is capable of big plays (eight touchdown passes) in the passing game, too.

The mood

Has been giddy ever since Austin MacGinnis’ field goal defeated Louisville 41-38 in the biggest upset in the history of the Governor’s Cup rivalry. A loss to a quality Georgia Tech team that has won five of its last six games would not be disastrous. But a bowl victory would back up the season-defining win over U of L and send Mark Stoops and his coaching staff onto the recruiting trails with gale-force winds behind their backs.

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