No. 1 Georgia steamrolls No. 11 Kentucky
It turns out the handicappers were off the mark, but not by much: Georgia was a three-touchdown favourite over Kentucky but only won by 17 points, 30-13, when the Wildcats scored a meaningless touchdown with no time remaining on the clock.
The ability to score even once, much alone twice, tells a lot about the Wildcats, who were once undefeated and are now obviously the second-best team in the SEC East. That says a lot about the Bulldogs, who were expected to dominate and have done so to remain the undisputed No. 1 team in the USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll.
Every week, the same picture emerges. The Bulldogs push aside every team in their way, whether it’s behind two different starting quarterbacks, one of three rushing backs, or any of several potential NFL defenders leaping out the screen.
Georgia has finally come together under coach Kirby Smart to be the undisputed top team in the Football Bowl Subdivision and the favourite for the national championship at the halfway point of the regular season, after years of close calls, disappointments, and underachievement in comparison to expectations.
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The Bulldogs resemble a traditional SEC powerhouse rather than a squad defined by the conference’s wide-open offensive tactics. While Alabama has embraced the spread revolution, Georgia’s approach is more rooted in the physicality that powered the SEC to more than a decade of supremacy.
Some of that might be attributed to the ailments that have hampered standout quarterback JT Daniels, who transformed Georgia’s fortunes in the final weeks of last season. With Daniels out, the Bulldogs have turned to backup Stetson Bennett, who has kept within the framework of an offence that has dominated every opponent on the schedule.
Bennett is proving that he can lead the Bulldogs through the SEC East, including this month’s rivalry game against Florida, and bring Georgia to the brink of a conference title. To beat Alabama and secure the top place in the College Football Playoff, though, a healthy Daniels may be required — with the assumption that the former Southern California transfer would ultimately return to the lineup.
The reason Georgia is at the top of the FBS is because of its defence, which is quickly establishing itself as one of the greatest in the century.
Georgia’s defence had only given up three touchdowns all season and none in the first half before Kentucky scored in the second quarter.
Later in the third quarter, the Wildcats’ effort to cut down a 17-point deficit was thwarted by the Bulldogs’ goal-line defence, which forced and then stopped a field-goal attempt. The touchdown came with seconds left after Kentucky coach Mark Stoops requested a timeout to extend the drive, infuriating the Georgia fans.
Georgia gained 416 yards against Kentucky‘s 243, with the Wildcats’ last drive accounting for a large portion of their total. The Bulldogs’ lone mistake was missing a meaningless extra point early in the fourth quarter, which was the program’s first since 2014.
Georgia now has to deal with life as the clear favourite. This, according to history, will be the most difficult test for Smart and the Bulldogs, who have been banging on the door for decades but have been unable to close the deal as other SEC rivals — Alabama, Auburn, Florida, and LSU — have earned national titles.
This year’s team has a distinct personality. Georgia continues to cruise while other undefeated teams fall off the board. Who’s going to stop these Bulldogs from sweeping the board?
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