ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart referred to Kentucky’s progress under coach Mark Stoops as “remarkable,” and he said he expects Saturday’s game to go down to the wire.
“It is going to be a four quarter game because that is the kind of team they are,” Smart said at his Monday press conference. “The good thing for us is we have been a good second half team this year, doing well finishing in that regard. I think that is an advantage for us, (but) they are a great team that is going to keep fighting.
“You know, they have a chance to go to Atlanta as well. They are going to pumped up and ready to go.”
The No. 6-ranked Bulldogs (7-1, 5-1 SEC) face the No. 11-ranked Wildcats (7-1, 5-1) at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday (TV: CBS, Radio: WSB 750 AM, 95.5 FM).
The winner clinches the SEC East Division and earns the trip to play in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 1 in Atlanta.
“I got a lot of respect for Mark (Stoops) and the job he’s done, I think it’s really remarkable, and it shows the patience of an athletic department to stick with a guy who I think is one of the best coaches in all of college football,” Smart said. “He’s now put his roster together. He’s got a senior class that’s really incredible across the SEC.”
Georgia has won the past eight meetings in the series and is a 10-point favorite, but Smart points to the Wildcats’ defense, which is experienced and leads the nation allowing just 13 points per game.
“It’s a credit to what they’ve built, because when you build on the long-term and you have this many seniors in a group, any defense I’ve coached or any team that I’ve been involved in coaching that has this many seniors is usually pretty successful, because they’ve played in our conference,” Smart said. “Everybody wants to talk, how many stars do they have, how many great recruits do they have. How many games have these guys played? Pretty successful when you play that many games.”
Georgia football coach Kirby Smart