Mark Story

Instant Analysis: Who is up, who is down after Kentucky’s 34-17 loss to Georgia

Instant analysis from No. 9 Kentucky’s 34-17 loss to No. 6 Georgia:

How the game was won

Georgia running backs D’Andre Swift (156 yards, two touchdowns) and Elijah Holyfield (115 yards, one TD) each ran for more than 100 yards as the Bulldogs claimed the SEC East championship in commanding fashion.

Game Balls

1. D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield. The Georgia running backs gashed a Kentucky defense that entered the game only allowing 107.3 yards a game.

2. Georgia offensive line. Opened big holes in the running game and had more success containing UK pass-rushing star Josh Allen (three tackles, two fumble recoveries) than any foe this season.

3. Mecole Hardman. The Georgia wide receiver’s 65-yard return of the game’s first punt set up the Bulldogs’ initial touchdown and forced Kentucky to play up hill the rest of the game.

4. Georgia fans. After I had the temerity to pick a Kentucky upset, heard from a number of Bulldogs backers who said the game would not be close.

They were right.

5. Terry Wilson. The UK sophomore quarterback showed growth in the passing game. That should bode well for Kentucky in the future.

6. Davonte Robinson. The UK sophomore safety from Henry Clay High School continues to produce (eight tackles, one tackle for loss) with expanded playing time.

7. UK Athletics Department general fund. Was at least spared the expense of the $250,000 fine from the SEC that would have come had Kentucky won the game and the Kroger Field crowd inevitably rushed the field.

Running gassers

1. Kentucky defense. Has been the best this season at UK since 1977’s 10-1 team. But against Georgia’s elite, skill-position talent, the Wildcats’ “D” had few answers.

2. Kentucky composure. UK had two of its best players, safety Darius West (targeting) and right guard Bunchy Stallings (contact with an official) ejected. The Cats committed way too many costly penalties (six for 64 yards), too. To beat a team as talented as Georgia, you have to play clean football.

Key number(s)

Nine. The Bulldogs have now beaten Kentucky nine years in a row. It remains UK’s longest current losing streak against an SEC opponent.

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Fashion police

For the game that decided the 2018 SEC East championship, Kentucky wore blue helmets, anthracite jerseys with white letters and numbers and blue pants. Georgia was Kentucky’s first loss this season in blue helmets after five wins.

Fans in the stands

Kentucky announced a sellout crowd of 63,543. It was the largest crowd at Kroger Field since the 2015 stadium renovation; the second sellout (South Carolina) of the 2018 home season; and the third crowd this year in excess of 60,000.

Mark Story: (859) 231-3230; Twitter: @markcstory

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