Georgia beat Kentucky 42-13 last season, the kind of loss most would point to as proof the Bulldogs will roll over the Cats on Saturday; however, despite the lopsided score, Kirby Smart says Kentucky is one of the most physical teams his squad has faced, going back to when the Bulldogs needed a field goal as time expired to escape Lexington with a win in 2016.
“They’ve got a really good football program, a very physical football program, one that in the last two years each time we played them our players said, ‘That was one of the most physical games we had to play, Coach.’ They are tough and they are physical.”
Junior defensive back Tyrique McGhee agrees.
“I’m not surprised at all,” McGhee said when asked about Kentucky playing for the SEC East. “Playing them during my freshman year, they had a great team and even last year, they’ve been building and they’re a great program.”
In case you’ve blocked the 2016 game out of your memory along with so many other heartbreaks, a quick refresher. Kentucky had a 21-13 lead in the third quarter. A freshman Benny Snell was wonderful, with 21 carries for 114 yards and two touchdowns, but the offense couldn’t get it in the end zone in the fourth quarter, forced to settle for a field goal to tie the game at 24 with two and a half minutes left. From there, the legend of Rodrigo Blankenship — or, as we called him at the time, “Glasses McGlasserson” — was born.
Even in last year’s blowout in Athens, Kentucky took the lead early and kept it close before Nick Chubb and Sony Michel took over in the second half. The Cats also made plenty of dumb mistakes, including a foolish roughing the punter penalty by Lonnie Johnson when the Cats were up three. Kentucky’s performance this season suggests the Cats are past such errors. If they are, Saturday’s game will be one for the ages.