Back Ground Game Keeps Georgia’s Eyes On the Prize

Back To SEC

Ground Game Keeps Georgia’s Eyes On the Prize

By Matt Smith
Follow us at  Become a fan at the Facebook Page

No. 7 Georgia took out its frustrations from last week’s blowout loss to Auburn on the Wildcats, running up 383 yards on the ground to pull away from Kentucky in the second half, 42-13.

Setting aside the three heavyweights in the conference, no other SEC team had been better at stopping the run than Kentucky heading into Saturday.

Not anymore.

No. 7 Georgia took out its frustrations from last week’s blowout loss to Auburn on the Wildcats, running up 383 yards on the ground – its most in more than a decade – to pull away from Kentucky in the second half, 42-13, on Saturday afternoon in Athens.

The 10-1 Bulldogs had already locked up the SEC East title, but needed the win to keep national championship hopes alive. With a win next week at Georgia Tech, the ‘Dawgs should be in a win-and-in position for the College Football Playoff heading into the Dec. 2 SEC Championship Game against Alabama or Auburn, who will play their annual next week (you may have heard) to decide the SEC West representative.

Fittingly, a pair of heralded seniors led the way for Georgia on Senior Day. Nick Chubb averaged more than 10 yards per carry, finishing with 151 yards on 15 totes. Classmate Sony Michel had just 87 yards, but outscored Chubb, three touchdowns to two.

Backups D’Andre Swift and Brian Herrien got plenty of work as well, with 66 and 48 yards respectively. Herrien’s 48 yards was his season high.

Jake Fromm shook off an early interception to finish an efficient 9-of-14 for 123 yards, capping a drive that broke open a 7-6 game with a 27-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. Six of Fromm’s nine completions went to Wims, who has developed into his favorite target with five or more catches in three of the past five games.

Kentucky was a miracle touchdown catch by Ole Miss away from coming into this game playing for the division title, but the 7-4 Wildcats showed again that they’re not quite ready for the big stage. In two games against SEC teams currently ranked (Mississippi State and Georgia), the Wildcats have been outscored 87-20.

The offense was perfectly balanced with 125 yards on the ground and 124 through the air, but the ‘Cats were done in by two first-half possessions in Georgia territory that resulted in field goals rather than touchdowns. Finishing those drives wouldn’t have affected the outcome, but could have kept the game interesting well into the second half.

The run defense will have to be far, far better next week when reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson and Louisville come to Lexington, still smarting from blowing a late lead to the Wildcats last season. The stats were boosted by playing in the SEC East and three non-Power 5 non-conference opponents, but Kentucky’s defensive front isn’t as bad it showed on Saturday in Athens.

For Georgia, Saturday’s performance didn’t necessarily suggest that the Bulldogs will fare better than they did last week when they take on Alabama or a rematch with Auburn, but it did allow the offense to regain any confidence it had lost after being stymied by the Tigers over the final 55 minutes seven days ago.

Of course, it won’t matter if Georgia can’t handle the tricky game at 5-5 Georgia Tech next week. The Bulldogs haven’t lost to the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta since 1999, but have dropped two of the past three meetings. Georgia Tech will miss a bowl game unless it can upset its in-state rival, so Georgia can’t be thinking about their return trip to Atlanta seven days later.

For one day, however, Georgia looked like the team that rolled to a 9-0 start. The ‘Dawgs tore apart a pretty decent defense, and their own defense only allowed one touchdown. It was good enough to beat a good opponent, but it will be good enough to beat a great opponent? We’ll find out in two weeks.

Matt Smith - Matt is a 2007 graduate of Notre Dame and has spent most of his life pondering why most people in the Mid-Atlantic actually think there are more important things than college football. He has blogged for College Football News, covering both national news as well as Notre Dame and the service academies. He credits Steve Spurrier and Danny Wuerffel for his love of college football and tailgating at Florida, Tennessee, and Auburn for his love of sundresses. Matt covers the ACC as well as the national scene.