Going into this season, I was skeptical that Kentucky was emerging as an elite SEC program. The Wildcats’ defense was porous in ’06 and didn’t look to be substantially improved in ’07.
The key to UK’s success last year was turnover margin. Kentucky was the nation’s second ranked team in that area in ’06, at +15. That was a margin considerably outside of its historical performance.
In the absence of what would be an unlikely repeat in that area, I doubted that UK would be able to improve significantly upon its 2006 won/loss record. And in fact for this season, the Wildcats are -2 in turnover margin, which is more in line with their historical numbers.
Looking back, Kentucky finished September 5-0 and was +7 in turnover margin. The wheels came off the wagon in October: a 1-3 record – the win being that memorable OT game with LSU – and a -9 in turnover margin. (UK was +1 in TO margin against LSU.)
cfbstats.com has the splits for UK in turnover margin here. They’re pretty dramatic. UK is significantly worse on the road, against conference opponents, against teams with winning records… and in games it loses.
Needless to say, Georgia can’t let Kentucky win the turnover battle.
In case you’re interested, Georgia’s splits in TO margin aren’t as large as UK’s. But make sure you check out the month to month trend line at the bottom of the chart.