Kentucky did not defeat No. 1 Georgia in Athens. The top-ranked team in the land looked like the best team in college football. The days of moral victories are long behind Mark Stoops’ program, however, you can see that Kentucky is closing the gap with Georgia, one baby step at a time.
The Lead Up
Kentucky-Georgia football games typically don’t receive a ton of hype. Even when they played for the SEC East title back in 2018, they received CBS’ b-team in the broadcast booth. Saturday afternoon the eyes of the college football world were on the Wildcats.
College GameDay and SEC Nation traveled to the same destination for the just the third time ever. It was the first meeting between two 6-0 SEC East teams. Thousands of Kentucky fans flocked to north Georgia, many without tickets, just to be at the scene. Saturday was a top-class college football environment and the Wildcats proved they belonged.
Kentucky Punches Back
The fateful fumble recovery that did not happen changed the momentum of the game. A devastating turn of events, instead of forcing a turnover, Kentucky’s defense allowed seven points on the following play. It’s the sort of play that typically marks the beginning of the end for an overmatched team, but Kentucky did not give up.
Trailing 14-0 after three consecutive three-and-outs by the Kentucky offense, Liam Coen and Will Levis threw a heavy-handed counterpunch. The Wildcats methodically marched down the field using a variety looks, mixing in screens with play-action passes, and even throwing in a hook and ladder for good measure. The 13-play, 75-yard scoring drive was the longest touchdown-scoring drive allowed by Georgia all season.
Kentucky could have thrown in the towel in the third quarter. After getting within a score before half, Georgia extended its lead to 24-7. The Wildcats had a 9-play drive get inside the Dawgs’ 10 yard-line, but a potential touchdown play was blown up and a field goal was blocked. Kentucky refused to give up, finishing the game with a 22-play drive that ended with a touchdown.
Georgia has demoralized opponents all year. This Kentucky team fought till the finish.
Georgia Fan Trash Talk
Georgia football fans are about as nice as they come, unless they think their beloved Bulldogs could lose. My previous three trips to Athens were filled with kind words and Southern hospitality. This one was filled with barking Dawgs.
Georgia fans were in the ears of UK fans all weekend. From across the street you could hear “GO DAWGS!” While some were incredibly complimentary after the game, many still did not back down from their harmless trash talk.
College football is a sport defined by inequality. The usual suspects dominate the CFB Playoff so much that expansion is on the horizon. The gap between the best of the best is wide, but Kentucky is inching closer and closer. Even if Georgia fans will not admit it, Dawgs don’t bark at parked cars.