For the second time in three weeks, Kirby Smart and No. 1 Georgia will host ESPN’s College Gameday in Athens, as the Bulldogs play host to the No. 11 Kentucky Wildcats.
Having College Gameday on a program’s campus once over the course of the season should be considered a win, due to the national viewership and attention it brings along with it. Having it twice in one season is unlikely, at best. But hosting GameDay twice in three weeks — what Georgia has done this year — is extremely uncommon, and Smart in Wednesday’s SEC Coaches’ Teleconference explained how he believes it could help Georgia on the recruiting trail.
“I think [GameDay] certainly attracts more players wanting to come to the game,” Smart said. “There’s probably more infatuation with saying, ‘I want to go to the game because GameDay is there’ than just, ‘I want to go to the game.’ That helps bring attention, and kids certainly like that show in terms of it being at campus, more excitement, those kinds of things. But they don’t get much direct involvement with [GameDay].”
Not only is College GameDay coming to Athens, but its SEC counterpart — SEC Nation, which airs live on SEC Network — will join it. And frankly, the unprecedented move by ESPN to have its two biggest live college football shows on the same campus isn’t all that hard to understand, given the stakes of the Georgia-Kentucky matchup.
Georgia’s defense has been by far and away the No. 1 defensive unit in the country through six games, all of which the Bulldogs have won. They’ve allowed a total of three touchdowns all season, a number that seems almost hard to grasp, and Smart’s defense has shutout two SEC teams in Vanderbilt and, perhaps more impressively, then-No. 8 Arkansas. Coming off a 34-10 win over then-No. 18 Auburn, the stakes are high for Georgia, which most everyone would predict to emerge victorious over Kentucky — but with Kentucky entering the matchup also 6-0, College GameDay has every reason to return to campus.
Kentucky won’t make things easy for Georgia. Mark Stoops and the Wildcats enter the game with a 6-0 record of their own, something the program has not accomplished since 1950, when Bear Bryant was the head coach in Lexington. It sure took a while for Stoops to get the wheels turning on the Kentucky Wildcats football program. But now, in his ninth season at the helm of Kentucky, they won’t stop moving. Kentucky’s most recent victory came at home over LSU, a game in which the Wildcats prevailed 42-21 thanks to an incredibly efficient offensive attack.
The game of the week will certainly have the most hype surrounding it, with both GameDay and SEC Nation in attendance. It’s only a matter of time until Georgia and Kentucky prove why they’re deserving.