Coming in, most of us just hoped Kentucky would keep the game respectable early on, and for the most part, they did. After taking the early lead, Kentucky hung tough despite some critical errors, but ultimately, Georgia was just too good. Behind the powerful legs of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, the Bulldogs rolled to a 42-13 win, moving the Cats to 7-4 on the season heading into next week’s finale vs. Louisville. Let’s go over it before we move on to prepare for the Cards.
Kentucky played great in the first quarter
After being told this was a cupcake game for Georgia, Kentucky came out with a chip on its shoulder. Josh Allen intercepted Jake Fromm’s pass, and Kentucky would have turned it into a touchdown if Stephen Johnson hadn’t overthrown CJ Conrad. Kentucky took a 3-0 lead and forced Georgia to punt on the next drive, but unfortunately, Lonnie Johnson roughed the kicker, giving the Bulldogs the ball back and turning what could have been a 10-0 lead into a 7-3 deficit. The penalty was devastating, but on the next drive, Kentucky bounced back thanks to an incredible catch by Blake Bone:
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) November 18, 2017
Unfortunately, that drive ended with three points, not seven, which is what really squelched Kentucky’s momentum.
Nick Chubb and Sony Michel were unstoppable
One silver lining for tonight? It was the last time Kentucky will face Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. The senior running backs put on a show tonight, burning the Cats for 238 yards and five touchdowns. Chubb was particularly hard to stop, running for 151 yards on 15 carries. So, he averaged a first down. All in all, Georgia finished with 389 rushing yards. It was that kind of night.
Thank God we don’t have to see either of them again.
Three costly critical errors
Ultimately, Kentucky probably wouldn’t have been able to keep up with Georgia, but they didn’t do themselves any favors. Three errors were particularly costly: Lonnie Johnson’s roughing the kicker penalty, Tavin Richardson’s drop at the end of the first half, and Lynn Bowden’s pick in the third quarter. Most will focus on Johnson’s penalty, but Richardson’s drop was much more egregious in my eyes. Kentucky went for it on fourth down with 25 seconds in the half, and would have had it had Richardson hung on to it. Sadly, he did not, and Kentucky got zero points out of the drive, which really sucks because they got the ball to start the second half. Talk about a missed opportunity.
Fans have been clamoring for Lynn Bowden to throw the ball and in the third quarter, he did…to the wrong team. With the game was still in reach at 28-13, Bowden threw the ball deep to Garrett Johnson, but it was picked off. Kentucky was moving the ball well at that point, so I’m not sure why you roll the dice there, but for those of you asking for more exciting playcalling, there you go.
Georgia’s defense is very, very good
Georgia’s defense isn’t ranked in the top five for nothing. The Bulldogs lived up to their Junkyard Dogs nickname today, making it impossible for Kentucky to do almost anything in the second half. Georgia held Kentucky to 262 yards total, and the Cats managed only 4-13 on third down. The fact that Benny Snell had 94 yards is a testament to his refusal to go down because Georgia was all over him.
Stephen Johnson took a beating
Stephen Johnson didn’t have a great game (12-22 for 138 yards), but, as always, you have to admire his grit. Johnson took an absolute beating this afternoon, getting sacked three times, including a body slam that somehow didn’t draw a penalty. In fact, Johnson was the one who got a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct in the fourth quarter, quite possibly the most ridiculous moment of the season. After getting pummeled all day, can you blame him for barking back?
Kentucky plays Louisville next week
No one expected Kentucky to win today, and although the final score was pretty lopsided, you have to be happy with the fact that they kept it competitive for a while. Routs are never fun, especially given the number of missed opportunities the Cats had tonight, but I’m taking heart in the fact that a few years ago, games like this were the norm and now they’re the exception. Let’s put this game in the rearview mirror and go beat Louisville.