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Wildcats can’t contain Georgia backfield in 42-13 loss to seventh-ranked Bulldogs

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops and the Wildcats take on Louisville Saturday in Lexington (UK Athletics Photo)

By Keith Taylor
Kentucky Today

Nick Chubb and Sony Michel rushed for 238 yards and five touchdowns to lead No. 7 Georgia to a 42-13 win over Kentucky Saturday in Athens.

The Bulldogs (10-1, 7-1) clinched the Southeastern Conference Eastern division title and will take on the winner of next week’s Alabama-Auburn game in the conference championship encounter on Dec. 2 in Atlanta. Kentucky (7-4, 4-4) split its eight conference games and will close out the season at noon Saturday against rival Louisville at Kroger Field.

“They put pressure on us all night, in all phases,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. “It’s a very physical team, it’s very well-coached, and they played like a No. 1 team in the country tonight.”

Chubb finished with 151 yards rushing, followed by Michel with 87 as the Bulldogs racked up 381 yards rushing against Kentucky’s defensive unit.

“We want to be able to do that on a consistent basis,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “We want to throw it too, but those 3- and 4-yard runs wear on people.”

Despite giving up massive yardage on the ground, Kentucky stayed within striking distance and trailed 21-13 following Benny Snell’s 1-yard touchdown run to open the second half.

From that point on, it was all Georgia, as the Bulldogs scored 21 unanswered to put the game away and notched their eighth consecutive win over the Wildcats. The Bulldogs edged the Wildcats 27-24 on a field goal at the buzzer a year ago in Lexington, but the Wildcats had a harder time keeping pace with Michel and Chubb this time around.

“They’re exceptional backs, they really are,” Stoops said. “They’re real physical, and they keep you off balance. Dynamic play-makers outside. Really strong, and really good. I have a lot of respect for those two.”

Snell paced Kentucky’s offensive attack with 94 yards on 22 carries and one touchdown. The sophomore running back fell just short of reaching the 100-yard plateau for the fourth straight time. Kentucky signal-caller Stephen Johnson completed 12-of-22 passes for 138 yards, while Lynn Bowden tossed an interception on his lone pass attempt of the contest.

“They were what we expected them to be,” Snell said of the Bulldogs’ defense. “They swarmed to the ball and they’re very similar to Florida. They’re very athletic. They have a good defense. They have a competitive will.”

The Bulldogs amassed 504 total yards against the Wildcats and collected three sacks and recorded three tackles for a loss.

Kentucky managed just 262 total yards against the Bulldogs and had just three first downs on 12 attempts. The Wildcats converted one of two fourth-down tries.

Georgia went undefeated in the SEC East with the lone loss coming to Auburn last week.

“People don’t understand in the SEC, it’s a challenge every week,” Smart said. “There are no easy games. No one can walk out and destroy a team in the first half. You just don’t do that.”

Gametracker: Louisville at Kentucky, noon, Saturday. TV/Radio: SEC Network, 98.1 FM, WBUL, Lexington.

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.

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