Sidelines with John Clay

A 25-point underdog Saturday, here’s how UK has done as heavy dog under Mark Stoops

According to ESPN, Kentucky is a 25-point underdog when it travels to what is expected to be a rainy Athens on Saturday to face No. 10-ranked Georgia.

That is not the largest point spread the Cats have faced since Mark Stoops came on board as head coach in 2013. It is close, however.

Using Phil Steele’s College Football Yearbook as a source, here’s a look at games in which UK has been at least a two-touchdown underdog under Stoops:

A 35-point underdog at Alabama on Oct. 1, 2016: UK was actually able to beat the spread against the No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide, but lost 34-6. The Cats gained just 161 total yards, but held Bama under 40 points.

A 27-point underdog at Louisville on Nov. 26, 2016: This has been Kentucky’s biggest upset under Stoops as the Cats shocked the 11th-ranked Cardinals with a 41-38 win in Louisville. Austin MacGinnis’ 47-yard field goal with 12 seconds remaining won it for Kentucky.

A 26-point underdog at Georgia on Nov. 23, 2013: The host Bulldogs led 35-10 at the half on the way to handing UK a convincing 59-17 loss at Sanford Stadium. Georgia rolled up 35 first downs compared to just 10 for Kentucky.

A 26-point underdog vs. Alabama on Oct. 12, 2013: UK lost 48-7 to Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide at what was then Commonwealth Stadium. Bama outgained the Cats 668-170.

A 21-point underdog at Georgia on Nov. 18, 2017: UK lost 42-13 as Nick Chubb rushed for 151 yards as the seventh-ranked Bulldogs rebounded from a loss the previous week to whip the Wildcats.

A 21-point underdog at South Carolina on Oct. 5, 2013: Down 24-7 at the half, the Cats rallied with 21 fourth-quarter points to make a game of it before losing 35-28 to Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks, then ranked 13th.

An 18.5-point underdog at Florida on Sept. 13, 2014: In Stoops’ second season, the Cats took the Gators to two overtimes before losing 36-30 in Gainesville. Florida scored a tying touchdown after the play clock had hit zero before the snap.

A 16-point underdog at Florida on Sept. 10, 2016: One week after losing at home to Southern Miss, the Cats were drubbed 45-7 by the Gators. Kentucky managed just 149 total yards.

A 16-point underdog at Georgia on Nov. 7, 2015: Kentucky lost 27-3 as Sony Michel rushed for 165 yards and a touchdown. The Bulldogs held UK’s offense to just 180 total yards at Sanford Stadium.

A 14-point underdog vs. Missouri on Nov. 9, 2013: UK lost 48-17 as Mizzou quarterback Matty Mauk threw five touchdown passes for the ninth-ranked Tigers. Dorial Green-Beckham had four touchdown catches for the visitors.

A 14-point underdog vs. Louisville on Sept. 14, 2013: In just Stoops’ third game as the UK coach, the 1-1 Wildcats lost 27-13 to Teddy Bridgewater and No. 7-ranked U of L.

A 14-point underdog at Mississippi State on Oct. 25, 2014: Kentucky lost 45-31 to Dak Prescott and the No. 1-ranked Bulldogs. Mississippi State’s Josh Robinson rushed for 198 yards. UK trailed just 31-24 heading into the fourth quarter.

UK’s record under Stoops as an underdog of 14-or-more points: 1-11

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John Clay is a sports columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader. A native of Central Kentucky, he covered UK football from 1987 until being named sports columnist in 2000. He has covered 20 Final Fours and 37 consecutive Kentucky Derbys.
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