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Kentucky falls at No. 1 Georgia: 4 things to know and postgame banter

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Time to regroup during the bye week.

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Kentucky Wildcats’ magical run finally hit a brick wall on Saturday, as the No. 1-ranked Georgia Bulldogs dominated the 11th-ranked Wildcats 30-13 at Sanford Stadium in Athens.

Georgia entered the game with the nation’s top defense and won the battle up front to stymie the Kentucky offense. However, the biggest surprise of the day proved to be Georgia’s offense as quarterback Stetson Bennett, a former walk-on, threw for two touchdowns and picked apart the Kentucky secondary to secure the win.

Saturday’s matchup was the first time that two undefeated teams had faced off in the SEC East Division as the Bulldogs improved to 7-0, while Kentucky falls to 6-1 as they head into a bye week. The Wildcats return to action on October 5th at Mississippi State.

If you missed the live action, here are the four things you need to know from Kentucky’s first loss of the season.

Defensive Juggernaut

The Georgia defense lived up to the hype and may be even better than advertised.

Prior to Saturday’s game, the Bulldogs’ defense had allowed just 33 points in six games, allowing only two offensive touchdowns all season. The nation’s No. 1-ranked defense is considered by many to be the best ever in college football and is led by a roster of 5-star recruits with as many as 17 potential NFL draft picks on the field.

Georgia’s top prospect is Jordan Davis, a 6-foot-6, 340 pound lineman who helped the Bulldogs push and penetrate the line of scrimmage on Saturday as a strong linebacker core was ready and able to eat up potential ball carriers.

Missed Opportunities

Georgia’s opening scoring drive provided a pivotal moment for the Wildcats as defensive end Josh Paschal hit Bennett in the pocket on a pass attempt as the ball fell to the ground in front of three Kentucky defenders who assumed the play was called dead as an incomplete ball. To everyone’s surprise, a Georgia player pounced on the ball which led to an official review. The play was ultimately ruled a fumble as the Cats missed a golden opportunity to get a turnover if they would have just played until the whistle.

Kentucky’s defense also had a tough time getting to the quarterback as the Georgia offensive line has only given up three sacks on the season to rank fourth in the nation and first in the SEC. The Wildcats’ secondary also struggled in man coverage, as Bennett threw for two touchdowns to lead a solid offensive game plan.

The Wildcats had another great chance to score with first and goal at the 10-yard line to end the third quarter. However, the Wildcats had to settle for an attempted 33-yard field goal by Matt Ruffolo that was blocked, the first of two blocked kicks in the game.

First-Half Breakthrough

It took seven games for the Georgia defense to allow a first half touchdown, but Will Levis found tight end Justin Rigg in the end zone to cap a 13-play, 75 yard scoring drive to cut the Georgia lead to 14-7 with 6:42 left in the half.

Kentucky offensive coordinator Liam Cohn pulled out his bag of tricks as the Wildcats finally found some momentum and got a huge break when Levis was stripped in the pocket in what looked like a Georgia fumble recovery. After an official review, the call was ruled an incomplete pass which led to Kentucky’s only score.

When given time to throw, Levis was efficient in the pass game, finding his tight ends and connecting on short routes as needed. The run game struggled against Georgia’s stingy defensive line as Chris Rodriguez, the SEC’s leading rusher, was held to one of his lowest rushing totals.

Kentucky scored on the final play of the game as Levis hit Wan’Dale Robinson on a 1-yard pass.

A Tall Order

Georgia has now won 12 straight against the Wildcats, who last beat the Bulldogs in 2009. Kentucky has won just 10 games all-time against Georgia and is just 3-27 since the SEC was divided into two divisions - East and West - for the 1992 season.

With the loss to the Bulldogs, Kentucky is now 3-15 all-time against No. 1-ranked teams and last beat No. 1 LSU during the 2007 season. The Wildcats also knocked the nation’s top-ranked team in 1964 against Ole Miss and 1950 against Oklahoma.

Time to regroup and get healthy during the bye week.