The Kentucky Wildcats fell to 7-2 as they came up short today in primetime on CBS against the Georgia Bulldogs by a score of 34-17.
The Wildcats had a chance to win the SEC East for the first time since the SEC split into two divisions, but the Wildcats were just outmatched by the favored Georgia Bulldogs, as the Bulldogs remain in contention for a back-to-back appearance in the College Football Playoffs.
The Bulldogs were able to run the ball successfully on Kentucky and Jake Fromm found success through the air, while the Kentucky offense struggled again. Kentucky’s defense, while putting forth a good effort early, seemed to just wear down over the course of the game.
As for the Wildcats, they are still in contention for a New Year’s Bowl if they can win out, but they have a road matchup looming next week in Knoxville, where they haven’t won in more than three decades.
Here are three things to know:
1. The Wildcats were out-matched
On both sides of the ball, Kentucky just looked out-matched for most of the game. Kentucky struggled to get a push up front defensively, and Georgia running backs D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield were able to find plenty of holes to run through and made Wildcat defenders miss on tackles, racking up 331 yards on the ground.
Offensively, Kentucky was able to muster some offense, but struggled again to move the ball with consistency, especially in the first half. Georgia is an exceptionally good team, and could end up back in the playoffs again this season. Kentucky’s loss can’t solely be blamed on Xs and Os, as Georgia’s sheer talent on both sides of the ball showed out today.
But this wasn’t the type of outmatched like Kentucky has been in the past. The gap is significantly narrower, and Kentucky clearly has a lot of talent on both sides of the ball.
2. Turnovers and penalties continue to kill Kentucky’s offense
In the first half, C.J. Conrad caught a short screen pass in the middle of the field in Georgia territory, and picked up a few yards before being brought down and fumbling. Georgia recovered, and Logan Stenberg picked up an unsportsmanlike penalty in the recovery pile.
It was just another example of how turnovers and penalties continue to plague the Kentucky offense. Kentucky’s offense isn’t exactly the most potent in college football, so making as few mistakes as possible is critical to ensure maximum efficiency.
Kentucky had six penalties for 64 yards, but that doesn’t tell the full story. The penalties came at critical times and really dashed any momentum the Wildcats could muster on that side of the field.
3. There is still a lot left to play for
The loss is disappointing, no doubt. If Kentucky wins that game, the possibilities are endless. The atmosphere was electric, the fans were out in full force, and there was a great sense of optimism in the air.
But the Wildcats lost to a team that is really good. And there is no reason to abandon ship at this point in the season.
Kentucky’s schedule shapes up pretty nicely to finish the season. Kentucky goes on the road to Tennessee next week in a big game, and then finishes with a home game (Senior Day) against Middle Tennessee and a road game at Louisville.
Kentucky should be pretty heavy favorites in the latter two and probably a slight favorite on the road against Tennessee. Win all three and Kentucky finishes the regular season with 10 wins and a potential berth in a New Year’s Day Bowl, a historically successful season for Kentucky.
That said, there is no reason to abandon ship over this loss. There is a lot left to play for and one of the best seasons in school history is still in play for this squad.
Now let’s hear your thoughts on the game!