Cats Give The Defending Champs A Battle
Following a deflating loss to Vanderbilt a week ago the Kentucky football team faced a daunting task on Saturday. Stetson Bennett and the defending national champions invaded Kroger Field. Pretty much everyone thought this would be a blow out. However the Cats went toe to toe with the Bulldogs for 60 minutes. Let’s break it down as Georgia gets by Kentucky 16-6.
Playing Them Tough
We seem to say every week that Kentucky gets off to bad start and Saturday was no exception. On the opening kick, it was ruled Barion Brown signaled a fair catch on the four-yard line. Mark Stoops challenged the call which stood. As a result UK lost a time-out and their challenge for the first half.
The offense showed some life after Will Levis hit Brown on a 31-yard pass getting the Cats out of the shadow of their own goal line. A good-looking drive stalled at the Bulldog 31 when JuThan McClain was stopped on third down and Chris Rodriguez on fourth. Running up the middle against one of the top defenses in the country was puzzling playcalling indeed.
Georgia took over and marched the ball down the field. However, the UK defense held forcing a 27 yard field goal by Jack Podlesny.
Kentucky put a great-looking drive together on their next possession going 55 yards in 13 plays. Unfortunately the old Levis bugaboo the interception reared its ugly head. Kelee Ringo picked one off at the Bulldog two running it back to near midfield. For a second straight drive, the Kentucky defense came up big holding Georgia to another Podlesny field goal.
The Cats were forced to punt on their next drive and it was only 6-0 at the half. If you are a UK fan you’d definitely take it. Holding the best team in the nation in the red zone to two field goals was quite an accomplishment.
Keeping It Close
Kentucky got a big break starting the second half when Jordan Lovett intercepted a Bennett pass. Unfortunately, that drive went nowhere and the Bulldogs capitalized. Going 58 yards in eight plays, the final nine by Kenny McIntosh, UGA went up 16-0. Many thought this was the beginning of a Georgia onslaught, but it didn’t happen.
Brad White’s defense stopped Georgia on a 4th and 1 at the goal line. From there the Cats had one of their best drives of the season going 99 yards for a touchdown. Levis to Brown for eight yards got Kentucky on the board. The two-point attempt was no good and it was 16-6.
Following a Georgia punt, the Cats put up another impressive drive. Unfortunately, it stalled at the Bulldog 20. Then the season-long issue reared its ugly head. After a bad snap on the field goal, Matt Ruffolo‘s kick was no good and the Cats missed a big opportunity.
UK had one more chance but turned the ball over on downs. That was it as Georgia gets past Kentucky 16-6.
With the win, Kirby Smart’s club moves to 11-0 on the year and finishes conference play at 8-0. It’s the second straight year they’ve gone undefeated in the league in the regular season. They’ll host Georgia Tech next Saturday and face LSU in the SEC Championship game in two weeks.
As for the Wildcats, they drop to 6-5 on the season and finish 3-5 in league play. They also have an intrastate rivalry game next Saturday when they host a streaking Louisville squad. U of L has won five of their last six including a 25-10 win over North Carolina State without their star quarterback Malik Cunningham.
No coach ever wants to talk about “moral victories.” However, that’s exactly what Kentucky did against Georgia. Credit White’s defense, who was playing without two key starters, Jacquez Jones and DeAndre Square. They held the Bulldogs to 363 total yards, well below their season average of 511.
On the other side of the ball if you read our game preview we said the Cats had to control the ball. They did just that with several long drives keeping Georgia off the field. Levis bounced back from a bad game against Vandy throwing for 206 yards and one touchdown. In addition, Brown had a career game hauling in nine passes for 145 yards and the score. That put him in some pretty good company.
Since 2000, SEC players with at least 10 receptions, 145 receiving yards, and 1 TD reception vs. Georgia:
– Cedric Tillman, Tennessee (11/13/21)
– DeVonta Smith, Alabama (10/27/20)
– Jarvis Landry, LSU (9/28/13)
— Corey Price (@coreyp08) November 20, 2022
On the downside the Cats had the ball three times inside the Bulldog 35 only to come away with nothing It’s been a season-long problem that continued today as Georgia gets by Kentucky 16-6.
Thanks for checking out our recap here at Last Word On College Football. We’ll be back later this week to get you ready for the Louisville game.