No. 1 Georgia upsets Kentucky 16-6 at an old-school wicked fest in Lexington, Kentucky. With the win, the Bulldogs kept their perfect season alive and finished 8-0 in SEC play for the second year in a row.
Georgia was hanging on to a 16-6 lead late in the fourth quarter, but its defense held Kentucky on a 38-yard field goal attempt. A bad snap forced Matt Ruffolo to kick the laces in, and he bunted it wide left to keep it in a two-out game with 4:17 to play. The bug was the dagger that Dogs needed to take control, but make no mistake, he needed that bug.
Kentucky quarterback Will Levis led his team on a 99-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter after his defense held off a Georgia 4th-and-goal to finally take the momentum in what was an offensive outing for both teams. It was the first time any team had put together a drive in quite a while since Kirby Smart took over the Dawgs.
Georgia kicker Jack Podelny made three first-half field goals for an early 9-0 lead. However, a slow start by the Dogs offense quickly turned into a stellar performance by star running back Kenny McIntosh. The versatile star scored Georgia’s only touchdown midway through the third quarter to create a 16-point margin. The senior finished with 143 yards rushing and 19 more receiving, which was a big reason why Georgia was able to keep Kentucky at arm’s length.
The Georgia defense’s ability to bend without breaking was an important factor. Kentucky on fourth and third from their own 32-yard line to stop Kentucky’s first drive of the game, and the Levis were slammed by Kelly Ringo at the goal line to end the Wildcats’ second possession. These two stations set the tone for the Dawgs.
What are the main results from Saturday’s match?
Kenny McIntosh was the MVP
The Bulldogs running back was the most valuable player on the court, for either team, and Georgia might have been in big trouble without him. His 9-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter of Georgia’s fifth drive of the game came after those three field goals and an ill-advised interception by quarterback Stetson Bennett IV midway on the first drive of the second half. Essentially, Macintosh launched a neutral attack on Georgia.
It wasn’t necessarily a high gear, but it was enough to get him rolling in the right direction. In the end, this run was all Georgia needed to get the win. The Dogs had seven rushes of 10 yards or more in the afternoon, five of which came from McIntosh.
McIntosh has been the unsung hero of this team. Offensive coordinator Todd Monken needed a replacement for James Cook, who was the multifaceted outfield player in the National Championship lineup last year. It’s important to have this kind of performance going forward. Now Coach Kirby Smart knows that when nothing’s going his team’s way, he can hand it to the veteran running back and let him bear the burden.
The first two properties told the tale
This game wasn’t officially over until a Levis fourth down pass over the middle landed harmlessly on the turf with just over a minute to play in the game. However, it was the Wildcats’ first possession that really cost them the game.
Levis, wide receiver Barion Brown and running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. cut through the Georgia defense before that fateful fourth and first stop. It was empty possession, but at least it gave Levis and the rest of the offense confidence that he could handle this defense.
It was the same story on the next drive. Rodriguez bombed the middle of the Bulldogs’ defensive line, the Levies worked the play, and they were 2-of-2 in their third defeat in 13 games before punching the gut with a Ringo interception on the goal line. The Wildcats were in catching-up mode from that point on, and it felt like any field advantage the Wildcats had froze in the cold Lexington air.
OL in Georgia was excellent
McIntosh put in an amazing performance, but his offensive line deserves a lot of the credit for his showing. They did not allow a single tackle for loss that afternoon, and broke up the Wildcats defense like Red Sea on touchdowns. It wasn’t just a drive, though. McIntosh was unaffected until he crossed the line of scrimmage almost the entire game, which set the tone against a Kentucky defense that was unable to match the physicality.
Bennett didn’t provide much help by air, and Georgia still managed 247 rushing yards and 5.4 yards per rush. Crime was necessarily one-dimensional, and it didn’t matter thanks to the work done in the trenches.
Bennett’s chances at the Heisman position were lost
The starting quarterback had a chance to advance his case, at the very least, to earn enough votes to earn an invitation to New York City in mid-December as a Heisman Trophy finalist. He had a national stage late in the season to make an impression on voters who might have been considering other players lighting up the stat sheets on a weekly basis.
However, he did not take advantage of it. He went 13 of 19 for 116 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. After that, it was clear that Monken and the offensive line called the game in a way that didn’t require Bennett to be a difference-maker. It worked on Saturday, but that’s not something Heisman voters will take kindly to
Does it matter in the end? no. Bennett’s only goal this year was to win back-to-back national titles, and that goal is still alive and well.
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