The scene was set for a night for the ages in Lexington, but it was not meant to be. The Georgia Bulldogs stormed into Kroger Field and cruised to a 34-17 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats and a clinching of the 2018 SEC East title.
The headline in this one was trench domination by the Dawgs and their significant speed and quickness advantage over the Wildcats. After UK punted on the opening possession of the game, UGA’s speed took center stage early as Mecole Hardman returned it 65 yards yards to the Kentucky 25. Georgia used the short field to its advantage and went up 7-0 after a four play drive that culminated in a four yard Jake Fromm TD pass to Isaac Nauta.
The rest of the first half was relatively back and forth, but UK just couldn’t capitalize and find the end zone. After the teams traded punts and fumbles for the remainder of the first quarter, the next points, a field goal by Kentucky’s Chance Poore made the score 7-3 with 8:24 left in the second quarter.
From this point on, Georgia’s bullying line play on both sides came to the forefront and carried the Dawgs to a 28-3 lead with 7:56 left in the 3rd quarter. Georgia’s fourth touchdown came on a blistering 83 yard run from D’Andre Swift and essentially took all of the wind out of the Kentucky sails, especially with star safety Darius West already having been ejected for targeting.
D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield combined for 271 of Georgia’s 331 rushing yards and on the flip side, the Bulldog defense held Benny Snell to 73 yards rushing and the rest of the wildcats to a measly 11 yards on the ground. Terry Wilson had a decent game, going 23/29 for 226 yards with one TD and no interceptions, but still looked to be bound to conservative play calling during large portions of the game.
In the end, Georgia looked to be the class of the SEC East as most suspected at the beginning of the season and Kentucky still not quite a member of the elite society of college football.
The Dawgs now sit at 8-1 (6-1) and look to run with their SEC East crown to a second consecutive appearance in the College Football Playoff. Auburn, Umass, Georgia Tech and the winner of Alabama-LSU await Georgia for the remainder of the season.
Kentucky falls to 7-2 (5-2), which is funky to say in a good way. UK will look to resume an historic season by trying to snag their first victory in Knoxville since 1984 next week. Following Tennessee, Middle Tennessee and a severely struggling Louisville stand in the way of a potential 10 win season for the Cats for the first time since 1977.