BOZICH | Kentucky running out of gas -- and time -- after Georgi - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Kentucky running out of gas -- and time -- after Georgia beatdown

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Georgia handed Kentucky its worse loss of the 2014 season Saturday. Georgia handed Kentucky its worse loss of the 2014 season Saturday.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) – Maybe it was the Advil-inducing, sledgehammer effect of playing Louisiana State, Mississippi State and Missouri back-to-back-to-back.

Maybe it is simply the talent gap between two Southeastern Conference programs. Maybe it was just one of those days.

You can fill in the blank with your own explanation. Georgia flattened Kentucky, 63-31, in Commonwealth Stadium Saturday, tagging the Wildcats (5-5) with their fourth consecutive defeat. The Wildcats have been outscored by 94 points in the four defeats.

"When I say I'm embarrassed, I'm embarrassed," said Kentucky coach Mark Stoops. "We didn't give our fans much to cheer about, starting with (the opening kickoff)."

You know the bottom line. It's the same bottom line the Wildcats have faced since they beat Louisiana-Monroe four weeks ago. Kentucky (2-5 in the SEC) must win at Tennessee next Saturday or at Louisville Nov. 29 to grab the sixth victory required for a bowl invitation.

Three quick thoughts on the Wildcats' long and difficult day:

1. UGLY EARLY. This one was over quickly, perhaps after 11 seconds. That's all that Georgia required to pop Isaiah Whitehead free to return the opening kickoff for a 90-yard touchdown. It was the second touchdown on a kickoff return the Wildcats have allowed in the last three games. Whitehead also scored on a punt return in the second half.

For the first time this season, UK trailed 21-0 after one quarter. For the first time this season, the Wildcats allowed 35 points in a half – and Georgia backed that up by scoring on its first two possessions of the second half. The Bulldogs are ranked 20th in the latest college football playoff poll -- and they looked better than that.

Nick Chubb, Georgia's freshman replacement for Heisman candidate Todd Gurley, ran like a guy who also deserved Heisman consideration. Quarterback Hutson Mason threw four scoring passes. The Georgia defense had UK quarterback Patrick Towles running, scrambling, ducking and hoping.

The Bulldogs outgained Kentucky, 559-353. Georgia converted all eight third-down opportunities and did not punt.

"The good news is as bad as it was, it only counts for one game," Stoops said. "We didn't play very good. We didn't have a very good chance of stopping them for most of the day. I'm not much on throwing things out, but I may have to throw this one out."

Not much else to say -- or do.

2. Georgia's better, considerably more talented.

Several days before the game I discussed several reasons why Kentucky could win this game. The Wildcats have a history of playing well against the Bulldogs. Georgia delivered its worst performance this season last weekend in an 18-point loss to struggling Florida.

Here is one advantage that tilted this game toward the winners: Better players. Much better players, especially freshmen.

Four Georgia true freshmen – Whitehead, Chubb, halfback Sony Michel and tight end Jeb Blazevich – scored six touchdowns for the winners. That's impressive.

According to Rivals.com, Georgia has recruited five Top 15 classes over the last five seasons. Kentucky has not recruited any.

The average Georgia recruiting class over that five-season stretch has ranked 10th nationally. The average Kentucky class? Try 44th. That's a talent gap.

Two of the three touchdowns the Bulldogs scored in the first quarter were by true freshmen.

McKenzie returned the opening kickoff for a 90-yard score. He was a four-star recruit from Plantation, Fla., who had scholarship offers from UK, Florida, Tennessee and others.

Chubb rambled 18 yards for the Bulldogs' third touchdown. Chubb was also a four-star prospect from Cedartown, Ga. Alabama, Auburn, Texas, Notre Dame, Florida and a cast of thousands wanted Chubb, who ran for 170 yards.

Georgia's best defensive player – linebacker Lorenzo Carter – is another true freshman, a guy who turned down Florida State, Alabama, Stanford, Oregon and Notre Dame to stay home to play for Georgia. Carter contributed nine tackles with 2 1/2 sacks.

"They were better than us, they played better than us and they took it to us," Stoops said.

Here are the year-by-year Rivals numbers:

Georgia: 2014 – 7th; 2013 – 12th; 2012 – 12th; 2011 – 5th and 2010 – 15th.

Kentucky: 2014 – 17th; 2013 – 29th; 2012 – 63rd; 2011 – 62nd and 2010 – 50th.

3. Next stop – Tennessee. The Wildcats ended their 26-game losing streak against the Volunteers three years ago in Commonwealth Stadium. But Kentucky has not won in Knoxville since Jerry Claiborne won at Neyland Stadium, 17-12, in 1984.

Like Kentucky, Tennessee is scrambling for bowl eligibility. The Volunteers are 4-5, which means they have to win two of their final three games against UK, Missouri and Vanderbilt.

They're only 1-4 in the SEC, winning their last game at South Carolina 45-42, in overtime. Jeff Sagarin's Predictor computer ratings favor Tennessee by 10.68 points, including the homefield advantage.

I'd be surprised if the official opening line from Las Vegas is that high when the numbers are posted late Sunday afternoon.

Like Kentucky, Tennessee struggles on offense, ranking 13th in the SEC in scoring and 12th in total offense. The Vols are average defensively (9th in total defense), slightly better than Kentucky against the run, slightly worse against the pass.

But it's a road game – and the Wildcats have not won a true road game since winning at Louisville to open the 2010 season. That is a streak of 20 straight true road games.

"The fact of the matter is we're a .500 football team with two games to play," Stoops said. "Let's go do what we have to do."

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