ATHENS, Ga. — Kentucky was beaten up by Georgia on Saturday night at Sanford Stadium. The No. 7 Bulldogs started slow, but ran away from the Wildcats in a 42-13 blowout.
Kentucky fell to 7-4 overall, and 4-4 in the SEC. Coach Mark Stoops’ squad finished .500 in the SEC for the second consecutive season.
Here’s how we graded Kentucky’s performance:
Kentucky only had 13 points, but the offense was effective in spurts. Benny Snell was facing the second-best run defense in the conference and still managed 94 yards on 22 attempts. The sophomore running back scored Kentucky’s only touchdown of the night. Snell’s longest run was 12 yards, but everything he got was well-earned.
Quarterback Stephen Johnson wasn’t sharp, but it’s a wonder how he keeps getting up from big hit after big hit. That in itself was impressive. Kentucky needs Johnson to be better through the air than 12-for-22 passing for 138 yards, but Georgia’s defense was overwhelming. Johnson was sacked 3 times. He missed a few open throws, but was hurt by a few drops.
Kentucky’s lone turnover came on a questionable play call late in the third quarter. Kentucky trailed 28-13 when offensive coordinator Eddie Gran dialed up a deep ball from Lynn Bowden out of the wildcat. The former high school quarterback was 3-for-3 through the air coming into the game, but Bowden’s deep pass was intercepted. It looked like Kentucky had something working on the ground, but the interception out of the wildcat put the game out of reach.
No single play changed the game, though. Georgia’s defense had the edge over Kentucky’s offense. The Cats were held to 262 yards.
Georgia had 119 more rushing yards than Kentucky had total yards. The Bulldogs shredded the Cats on the ground, rushing for 381 yards on 44 attempts. That’s 8.7 yards per carry.
A great game from Nick Chubb and Sony Michel was made even greater given that it was Senior Day in Athens. Chubb rushed for 151 yards and 2 touchdowns. Michel scored 3 times on 87 rushing yards.
“They keep you off balance with dynamic playmakers outside, but their running backs are really strong and really good players,” Stoops said. “They’ve been around for a while. I have a lot of respect for those players.”
Georgia probably could’ve won the game without attempting a pass. Quarterback Jake Fromm was effective, but he didn’t have to do all that much. Josh Allen picked him off on Georgia’s first drive, but Fromm settled in after that. He was 9-for-14 passing for 123 yards and a touchdown.
Kentucky came into the game giving up 404 yards per game on average. Georgia gashed the Cats for 504 yards on Saturday.
Special teams: D-plus
After Georgia’s first drive ended with an interception, the Bulldogs punted it away on fourth-and-16 after their second drive stalled. Kentucky could’ve fielded the ball with a 3-0 lead, but instead, junior safety Lonnie Johnson roughed Georgia punter Cameron Nizialek. Georgia’s drive continued all the way into the end zone.
“We got some early momentum and we rough ‘em,” Stoops said after the game. “Make us defend another eight, nine plays and they score. It was an uphill climb from that point on.”
The special-teams gaffe put Kentucky down 7-3, and the Cats never retook the lead.
“We felt like we had to create some pressure on them to create some opportunities tonight,” Stoops said of the punt block try. “It backfired.”
The kicking game was solid for the Cats. Austin MacGinnis is automatic these days. He made first-quarter field goals of 35 and 37 yards. Matt Panton regained punt duties. He averaged 42.2 yards on his five punts.
Nothing spectacular happened in the return game. Georgia’s Mecole Hardman had a 35-yard return, the longest of the night on either side. The long return on the short kickoff set up another Georgia scoring drive.
Kentucky actually hung with Georgia for the first half, and the third quarter was tied 7-7. But then things got away from the Cats.
Georgia was the superior squad and Kentucky could do nothing to prove otherwise.