With the national spotlight squarely on them, the Kentucky Wildcats looked to make a statement. In front of 63,543, the largest crowd since the renovation of Kroger Field in 2015, the Cats looked to earn their first ever SEC East title. However the only statement made was by the Bulldogs winning 34-17. It was a rough day for the Cats so let’s see what we learned from Georgia’s win over Kentucky.
What We Learned From Georgia’s Win Over Kentucky
The Bulldogs’ Offense Was Too Much
Coming into Saturday Kentucky ranked first in the country allowing 13 points per game. In addition they were in the Top 20 in rushing yards allowed. However Georgia ran over, around and through Matt House’s unit.
Behind Elijah Holyfield and D’Andre Swift the Bulldogs ran up a season high 331 yards on the ground. Before this game the most points the Cats had given up was 20. Swift went for a career high 158 yards and two touchdowns while Holyfied added 118 and another score. One of Swift’s scores went for 83 yards in which he appeared to go untouched. Before that play, the Wildcats hadn’t given up a running play of more than 34 yards on the season.
Following the game Mark Stoops lamented the lack of tackling by his team. The UK head coach told reporters, “They moved us and made us miss. There’s a lot of things we could have done better, but a lot of that has to do with them.” Georgia’s speed contributed to many of the missed tackles.
Georgia’s Defense Answered The Call
All week the talk was could the Bulldogs stop the league’s leading rusher Benny Snell. For the game, he ran for 73 yards and a touchdown. This now makes three of the last four games in which Snell has rushed for under 75 yards. However he did go over 1,000 for the season putting him in exclusive company.
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) November 3, 2018
It also put the junior in some exclusive SEC company as well.
Players in SEC history with at least 1,000 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns in each of their first 3 seasons: Herschel Walker, Darren McFadden, Benny Snell
— Corey Price (@coreyp08) November 3, 2018
In addition Kentucky’s inability to convert yards into points hurt them. The Cats reached Georgia territory three straight times in the first half but scored only three points. Another stat where the ‘Dawgs came up big was the pass rush. After only having 10 sacks in the first eight games of the season they recorded four against Kentucky.
Terry Wilson did throw for 226 yards and a touchdown and more importantly no turnovers. The offense went to more of a spread in the second half and was quite effective. That may be something to look into the rest of the season to try to alleviate Snell’s workload.
While we have mainly focused on the negative the last of what we learned from Georgia’s win over Kentucky is a major positive.
Kentucky Can Still Have A Special Season
Even though their SEC East title hopes are through there is a lot to play for. The Wildcats should be favored in their three remaining games. A win in the SEC finale against Tennessee gives Kentucky their first eight win regular season since 1984.
Following Tennessee, the Cats close with Middle Tennessee and Louisville. Not only would three wins give Kentucky a first ten win season since 1977 but send them to a New Year’s Day bowl.
With the loss to Georgia, the Peach and Sugar Bowls are likely out. However a nine or 10 win Kentucky team likely heads to either the Outback or Citrus Bowl. That would be the Cats first New Year’s Day game since the 1999 Outback Bowl.
In conclusion, what we learned from Georgia’s win over Kentucky is this: the Bulldogs rule the SEC East. The victory wraps up a second straight trip to the SEC Title game and second consecutive year of going unbeaten in the eastern division.
For Kentucky they have to try to forget about this game and focus on Tennessee. A win there gives the Wildcats their first back to back wins over the Vols since the 1970’s. We’ll preview that game next time here at Last Word On College Football.