ATHENS — Kentucky football knocked on the door of winning the SEC East Division in 2018 before running into a buzzsaw of a Georgia team in 2018.
Three years later, the Wildcats are back, headed for Sanford Stadium and looking to take control of the East Division again in another matchup with a strong Bulldogs football team at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday (TV: CBS).
AROUND THE SEC: Kentucky tips LSU, looks to crash Georgia No. 1 party
“Talented, fast, physical, No. 1 team in the country, these are the things you dream of,’ Kentucky quarterback Will Levis said on the SEC Network, asked what comes to mind when thinking about Georgia.
“Not many people get to pay the No. 1 team in the country …. This is really cool, going into an environment in Sanford Stadium in Athens, it’s one of the environments I was really looking forward to experiencing once I came to play in the SEC.”
RELATED: Georgia football massive favorite over Kentucky
Levis, who started his career at Penn State, is one of four key transfers starting for the upset-minded Wildcats.
Receiver Wan’Dale Robinson, is a transfer from Nebraska who started the season with three 100-yard games and will need to play a pivotal role if Kentucky is to stand a chance against the No. 1-ranked Bulldogs’ defense.
Robinson leads the Wildcats with 37 catches for 527 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Junior Dare Rosenthal, a 6-7, 327-pound transfer from LSU, is yet another key newcomer who must come up big against Georgia. Rosenthal started three games as a freshman for the Bayou Bengals last season and has solidified the left tackle spot for Kentucky.
Defensively, the Wildcats added inside linebacker Jacquez Jones, a senior who was a regular started at Ole Miss last season. Jones is second on the defense with 42 tackles.
Kentucky, no doubt, has beefed up through the transfer portal.
Georgia, meanwhile, helped itself by adding Clemson cornerback Derion Kendrick from the transfer portal.
The Bulldogs, however, are just now getting previously injured defensive back Tykee Smith (West Virginia) on the field, while LSU transfer receiver Arik Gilbert has been away from the team dealing with personal issues after a challenging transition.
From a momentum standpoint, both teams are hot.
Georgia is No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time since the 2008 preseason poll.
The Wildcats have climbed to No. 11, coming off back-to-back home wins over Florida (20-13) and LSU (42-21).
Both Georgia and Kentucky, however, are dealing with key injuries.
The Bulldogs’ issues at quarterback, receiver and in the secondary have been well-documented, while the Wildcats are more recent.
Coach Mark Stoops announced on Monday that 318-pound defensive tackle Octavious Oxendine who had two sacks against LSU and was the SEC’s do-defensive lineman of the week, is expected to miss the rest of the season.
Kentucky lost senior nose guard Marquan McCall, a 6-3, 379-pound nose guard, the week before in the win over Florida.
Senior receiver Josh Ali, second on the team in catches (17-248), is also doubtful for the Georgia game with a leg injury.