LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The No. 11-ranked Kentucky football team played a bit beyond (Vegas) expectations, but could not play beyond the level of top-ranked Georgia, falling 30-13 before a full house in Sanford Stadium in Athens on Saturday afternoon.
Kentucky undoubtedly comes away from the contest with a bit more respect, both nationally and within the SEC. It outgained Georgia in the first quarter. It became the first offense all season to score a first-half touchdown against the Bulldogs. Kentucky quarterback Will Levis began to make a name for himself.
But Georgia had too much talent, in too many places, and its sustained excellence broke the game open on the first drive of the third quarter after a competitive first half. It was the Bulldogs' 12th consecutive win over Kentucky. It also was their fifth straight SEC game giving up 13 points or less.
"A lot of things we can correct and do better," Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said after the game. "Still love this football team and love the way they work. We just have to have better disciplined execution when you play quality teams like this. So we'll get back to work."
Nothing happened on Saturday to stop the growing consensus that Georgia is the team to beat in college football this season.
"Georgia is for real," Gary Danielson of CBS said late in the game. "But Kentucky is a good football team."
For Kentucky, which came into the game at 6-0 for the first time since 1950, the loss bumps the Wildcats into second place in the SEC East, but doesn't derail what still could be a special season for a team that may well be favored in all of the rest of its games.
"That's a really good football team," Kirby Smart told CBS about Kentucky. "I appreciate the way they play. But our guys play real hard too."
To beat a team like Georgia, you need a few breaks, and Kentucky was on the wrong end of several key plays. A Stetson Bennett fumble on the final play of the first quarter rolled right at two Kentucky defenders, but Georgia jumped on the ball for an 8-yard recovery. On the first play of the second quarter, Bennett hit running back James Cook on a slant, and he went in untouched for his second TD reception of the year.
Kentucky outgained Georgia 126-75 in the first quarter, but could get nothing going on its early second-quarter possessions. And Georgia began hitting big plays. Milton Kendall ran up the middle for 17 yards on the Bulldogs' second possession of the second quarter, then Bennett ran for 17 on a keeper before Zamir White dashed up the middle for a 24-yard TD run that made it 14-0.
The Wildcats, however, responded, with a brilliantly called and executed 75-yard drive on 13-plays. Kentucky made frequent use of screen passes, and earned pulled back within 14-7 when Levis hit tight end Justin Rigg from a yard out.
Georgia, however, had just too much firepower. The Bulldogs marched impressively, 75 yards on 6 plays, to a 27-yard TD pass from Bennett to tight end Brock Bowers. Georgia added a 46-yard field goal to make it 24-7 late in the third quarter.
Kentucky, meanwhile, was moving the ball with little to show for it. On a last-gasp drive at the end of the third quarter, the Wildcats moved into Georgia territory, but finally had to settle for a 33-yard field-goal attempt that would've brought them within two touchdowns. The kick was blocked, however, by Devonte Wyatt, and that was that.
Georgia rolled up 416 yards of offense (on just 47 total plays), the most UK has given up all season – but the second straight game it has yielded more than 400 yards.
After a promising first quarter, Kentucky managed just 123 yards the rest of the game.
Kentucky finished the game with a 22-play drive that took more than 11 1/2 minutes. Kentucky coach Mark Stoops called timeout with 3 seconds left to set up the final one-yard TD pass from Levis to Wan'dale Robinson. The extra point was blocked.
Kentucky now gets a bye week to get ready for a crucial home stretch of the season. It will visit Mississippi State on Oct. 30. Georgia also has a week off before facing Florida in Jacksonville.
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