By rights, I ought to be madder than all get-out. I arrived in Sanford Stadium with my son (who was attending his first college football game featuring two SEC contestants) expecting a blowout. Instead, I saw the Georgia Bulldogs held to four field goals through two quarters, leaving them with a 12-10 halftime lead over the Kentucky Wildcats in a sloppy game featuring four Red and Black turnovers. I should be infuriated by that, but you know what? I’m really not.
For one thing, it could’ve been worse. For instance, the ‘Dawgs could’ve held a 20-13 halftime lead on The Citadel, or the ‘Dawgs could’ve held a 14-10 halftime lead on Samford, or the ‘Dawgs could’ve held a 27-22 halftime lead on Furman. I mean, at least Georgia was struggling with a Division I-A opponent.
Despite failing to secure the football and settling for too many field goals, the Bulldog offense still racked up 317 yards and retained possession of the pigskin for nearly 36 minutes of clock time. With most of the running backs once again sidelined for most of the game, the squad gained 155 rushing yards, with Brandon Harton rushing 23 times for 101 yards. That’s not too shabby, considering the fact that the last eventual SEC East champion to face Kentucky without its top tailback lost.
The special teams performed well, with Blair Walsh hitting all four of his field goal tries and Drew Butler averaging 47.5 yards per punt, with one being downed at the Wildcat one yard line. The defense carded a quartet of takeaways, limited the visitors to ten first downs, surrendered 165 total yards, conceded first-down yardage on just five of 17 third- and fourth-down plays, shut out the opposition after intermission, and only allowed a touchdown because of the combination of a Georgia turnover and a pair of highly questionable officiating calls.
No, it wasn’t pretty, but it was a win against a Kentucky club with several native Georgians on its roster that was fighting to keep its bowl streak alive. Maybe I should feel angry, or disappointed, or dejected, but I don’t.
In 2007, a very good Georgia team followed up an exhilarating win over Auburn with a lackluster victory over Kentucky; it didn’t prevent the Bulldogs from continuing their winning streak through the end of the autumn, which culminated in the Sugar Bowl. After allowing more than 30 points to the Wildcats in three straight series meetings, the Athenians held the Blue and White to ten points for the first time since 2003 (another season that ended in an Eastern Division championship, by the way).
As for the way Georgia has gone about putting together this nine-game winning streak, well, all I have to offer are three sets of numbers. These are they:
- 27-13, 24-10, 20-12, 33-28, 24-20, 19-10
- 31-28, 13-7, 27-25, 18-13, 24-21, 26-13
- 16-15, 20-16, 28-21, 13-10, 26-21, 17-10
The first line consists of scores from Georgia’s current nine-game winning streak. The second line consists of scores from Bulldog wins during their 2002 SEC championship season. The third line consists of scores from Bulldog wins during their 1980 national championship season.
This team is in good company. It also is in the SEC Championship Game for the fourth time in a ten-year span. I think I’m going to feel pretty good about that.