ATHENS — Greetings from beautiful Commonwealth Stadium. And I’m not exaggerating when I say beautiful. Kentucky poured $125 million into a renovation that was completed just before season started, and it definitely shows. As it should. Seems like you could build a whole stadium for that amount of money.
Anyway, the Wildcats are really excited about their football team, and not just because of the new stadium. They’re playing pretty good, if you haven’t heard. They’re 5-3 overall and in second place in the SEC East with a 4-2 record. One more win and Kentucky will qualify for a postseason bowl game for the first time since 2010.
I arrived here last night and took an Uber ride out to dinner. My driver, Albert, was “a huge ‘Cats’ fan” and said he was having trouble getting a ticket to tonight’s game. That’s something I don’t think I’ve heard in 20-plus years of coming here. Judging from a pretty vibrant tailgating scene outside, I wouldn’t be surprised if they do fill up this 61,000-seat facility.
Of course, it’s the Wildcats on the field that Georgia is worried about, and there is plenty there about which to be concerned. Chiefly that’s UK’s “thunder and lightning” backfield combination of Stanley “Boom” Williams and Benny Snell. Williams, a Monroe native, is somebody the Bulldogs should be familiar with. The one-time UGA commitment has 2,162 career rushing yards and is third in the league this year with a 102.6-yard average. But Snell is a new guy, a 5-11, 220-pound freshman from Ohio who is coming off a record-setting 192-yard, 38-carry performance in last week’s win over Missouri. Each back has three 100-yard games to their credit this season.
Conversely, Georgia hasn’t had a 100-yard rusher in the last two games. And that’s after nearly having three players for over 100 in the South Carolina game on Oct. 9.
That’ll be the key to tonight’s game. Who can run and who can stop the run. That and motivation. You can be sure the Wildcats are going to be motivated. Georgia, coming off a 24-10 loss to Florida, best be. In part because Kentucky is often the next opponent, the Bulldogs have won their last nine games the week after playing the Gators in Jacksonville.
Seth Emerson, Mark Bradley and I are here to chronicle it for you, and Curtis Compton will be taking photos. So be sure to check back during and after the game to catch all our coverage.