Number One Team Pulls Away In Second Half
Heading into Saturday the Kentucky football team was 6-0 for the first time since 1950. However they faced a tough task in trying to get to lucky number seven. After playing them almost even in the first half the top ranked Bulldogs broke it open as Kentucky falls at Georgia 30-13.
Early Momentum Swing
If you read our game preview we said for Kentucky to have a chance they had to play a near perfect game. While they only had three penalties, they came at bad times. An illegal motion flag halted what was a good first drive. Then late in the first quarter a huge mental error cost the Cats. Josh Paschal broke up a Stetson Bennett pass before it left his hand. The ball rolled forward a few yards and Kendall Milton picked it up in between three Kentucky defenders who thought it was an incomplete pass. On the next play Bennett hit James Cook with a 19 yard touchdown giving the Bulldogs the lead. What seemed like an insignificant play was actually a big momentum shift.
Strong Game For QB1
Following the five touchdown game against LSU , Wildcat quarterback Will Levis had a very good game against the SEC’s best defense. Overall he completed 32 of 42 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns.
Will Levis had the best completion percentage by a UK QB in a game (min. 40 att.) (76.2%) since Mike Hartline vs. South Carolina on October 16th, 2010 (76.2%)
— Corey Price (@coreyp08) October 17, 2021
His stats would have been even better had the UK receivers not dropped several balls. Near the end of the half they drove 75 yards in 13 plays with Levis hitting Justin Rigg for a one yard score to make it 14-7 at the half. Remember if not for that missed fumble opportunity it should have been tied at worst at the half.
Kentucky needed a big game from Levis as the normally dominant Wildcat running game was missing in action. After being the only team to gain more than 100 yards on Georgia the last two years the Cats only got 51 yards on 27 carries. If you do the math that’s less than two yards per carry. In addition they held the SEC’s leading rusher Chris Rodriguez to only seven yards on seven carries.
Big Second Half
During their first six wins the Georgia football team has been so far ahead at the half they haven’t really been challenged. However it only took them under three minutes to score as Bennett hit Brock Bowers with a 27 yard touchdown. A field goal and another Bennett to Bowers touchdown and it was suddenly 30-7. The Georgia signal caller had one of his best games completing 14 of 20 passes for 250 yards and three touchdowns.
Kentucky had been one of the best in the SEC at now allowing the big play. Unfortunately for the Big Blue Nation the Bulldogs had 15 plays of more than 15 yards on only 47 snaps. In a game where the Cats had a the ball for 37 minutes Georgia made the most of their 23 minutes of possession.
“Controversial” Late Score
With the game well out of reach, UK took over on their own 25. They proceeded to hold the ball for the remaining 11:23 of the game getting down close to the goal line. After being stopped twice, Mark Stoops called a time out with seven seconds left. On the next play Levis hit Wan’Dale Robinson with a a touchdown that made the margin 17. With the point spread at 21.5 depending on what side you were betting from you were either very happy or sad.
Mark Stoops on why it was 'so important' to call the late timeout to set up the touchdown: "It wasn't 'so important.' I just wanted to."
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) October 16, 2021
While some thought it was shady the UK coach called it a confidence builder. In fact, the Cats scored as many touchdowns (2) as the Bulldogs had given up all season. The extra point was blocked which highlighted another problem for Kentucky as they had a field goal blocked earlier in the game. That’s three straight contests with a blocked kick for the Cats. That has to get better during the final five games. In the end Kentucky falls to Georgia 30-13 and it still leaves one big task to achieve.
One Box Left To Check
For long time readers of our site you know we’ve talked about how Stoops has been checking off box after box on the list of Kentucky football. However the biggest one still remains and that’s finally beating Georgia. With Saturday’s loss the UK head man is now 0-9 against UGA and overall the Cats have lost 12 straight. If you’re looking for positives the Cats have now faced Georgia twice in four years with the SEC East at stake. Of course they’ve lost both by 17 points but again it proves how much this program has progressed.
With the loss Kentucky drops to 6-1 on the season. The Cats have a much needed week off to heal up and get healthy before their final five games. On October 30th they travel to Mississippi State, a place where Stoops has had no success. In fact he’s 0-4 in Starkville and overall the Cats haven’t won down there since 2008.
On the other side of the ball the Bulldogs move to 7-0 on the year and will remain number one in not only the polls but the college football playoff. They too have a week off before the annual game in Jacksonville against Florida.
Again Kentucky falls at Georgia 30-13. Thanks for checking out our recap here at Last Word On College Football. We’ll be back soon with our updated bowl projections where it’s unlikely Kentucky drops very much if at all from last week. In fact Iowa’s loss could help them.