There was a right cross in the form of Nick Chubb.
Then Sony Michel came with the left hook.
On their senior night, the running backs were all seventh-ranked Georgia needed to knock out Kentucky, 42-13, on Saturday night at Sanford Stadium.
“They’re the best one-two combo backs in the country,” UK safety Mike Edwards said of Michel and Chubb, who combined for 238 yards and five touchdowns in the victory, the Bulldogs’ eighth straight over Kentucky.
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They were quite the body blow to Kentucky, which came into the game as a top-20 run defense, and surrendered 381 yards rushing, the most it had allowed all season by nearly 100 yards.
“Way too many yards,” Coach Mark Stoops said after detailing all of the various ways the Bulldogs amassed yards on the ground against Kentucky. “You’re not going to win very many football games when you give up that kind of rush yards.”
The Bulldogs, who won their eighth straight game over the Cats, had 119 more yards on the ground than Kentucky managed altogether with 262.
“What a great way for these seniors to go out: winning the SEC East by going undefeated against the East,” Georgia Coach Kirby Smart said. “Our seniors have given us tremendous leadership, and I’m happy and proud of them.”
Chubb led the way with 151 yards and two scores on 15 carries. Michel added three touchdowns of his own and 87 yards on 12 carries. Several other Bulldogs (10-1, 7-1 SEC) runners added to the total.
“They’re exceptional backs; they really are,” Stoops said of the senior tandem. “They’re physical. They’re a physical group. They keep you off balance with dynamic playmakers outside, but their running backs are really strong and really good players. They’ve been around for a while. I have a lot of respect for those players.”
Georgia finished the night with 504 yards of offense, the second-most Kentucky has allowed all season. Freshman Jake Fromm added 123 yards and a touchdown for the Bulldogs.
Cats quarterback Stephen Johnson, who was picked up and slammed to the ground in the second half, said he was sore.
But something else hurt more than his body, which was battered by the Georgia defense, which held Kentucky to 262 yards of offense.
“Pride’s a little bit hurt right now,” Johnson said afterward. “Just sore, upset.”
Kentucky (7-4, 4-4) was led by Benny Snell’s 94 yards on 22 carries, snapping his streak of three straight games with three touchdowns.
Snell said he wasn’t going to get down after the loss.
“In every single game, I give 110 percent,” said Snell, who scored UK’s lone touchdown on a 1-yard run out of the wildcat formation to open the second half and help UK pull within eight points, 21-13.
“I can’t do much more,” Snell said. “I’m going to keep running hard, and that’s not going to change.”
Kentucky’s defense opened the game up with a small victory when Josh Allen picked off Fromm and set the Cats’ offense up at the Georgia 32-yard line. It was the junior linebacker’s first career interception.
But the UK offense had to settle for a 37-yard field goal from Austin MacGinnis after three straight passes fell incomplete.
“I felt like we started off pretty good,” Allen said. “We started off hot, especially with the interception. It was a good stepping stone for us; we just didn’t finish, didn’t capitalize on the mistakes we had.”
Kentucky (7-4, 4-4) had another third-down stop early, but went after Georgia punter Cameron Nizialek, resulting in a roughing the punter penalty that gave the Bulldogs another try.
Georgia promptly marched 66 yards down the field and scored on an 8-yard touchdown run for Chubb, his first of the game.
“We felt like we had to create some pressure on them to create some opportunities tonight,” Stoops said of the penalty by Lonnie Johnson. “It backfired. We had a chance to get good field position.
“We had good momentum and we roughed them. We came after them and played pretty aggressively with that block but it backfired. We can’t second guess the call. We’ve just got to be more precise in our technique and execute it better.”
The Cats had another drive stall inside the Georgia 20-yard line and MacGinnis’ 35-yarder helped get UK within a point, 7-6, late in the first quarter.
But then things went sideways.
Georgia needed just six plays to go 80 yards behind Fromm, who completed all three pass attempts on the drive, including the one for points, a 27-yard touchdown to Javon Wims.
On the next drive, which started at midfield, Georgia needed just 1:27 to find the end zone, this time on 37 lightning-fast yards from Michel.
“It was not good,” Stoops said of that play, which happened with just 1:51 to go before the break. “It was a big possession for them to get that score.”
Trailing 21-6, the Cats had a chance to get within striking distance on a series just before the break, but Tavin Richardson couldn’t haul in the pass from Johnson on fourth-and-1.
Kentucky’s quarterback completed 12 of 22 pass attempts for 138 yards.
Darius West led the Cats’ defense with seven tackles. Courtney Love, Jordan Jones and Allen added five tackles apiece. The lone sack for Kentucky was from defensive lineman T.J. Carter.
Louisville at Kentucky
Noon Saturday (SEC)