ATHENS -- Georgia did all it could Saturday. As much as they might have wanted to, the No. 6 Bulldogs couldn’t beat Kentucky twice.
Georgia did beat the Wildcats once, prevailing 30-10 in front of a 92,058 in Sanford Stadium. The win assured the Bulldogs (9-2, 6-2 SEC) a first-place tie in the SEC East with at least Florida.
Now, Georgia has to hope the Wildcats lose again, next week against Tennessee, to create a three-way tie for the division lead, thus sending Georgia to the SEC Championship game on Dec. 6.
“I told them good luck after the game, but hopefully Tennessee will beat them,” senior Ken Veal said.
The Bulldogs also have to beat Georgia Tech in order to retain their BCS ranking and tiebreaker advantage. Georgia and the Yellow Jackets play Saturday at Grant Field in Atlanta.
“I think our guys are really beginning to feel like we have a chance to get back in the SEC Championship game,” Coach Mark Richt said.
Since losing to Florida on Nov. 1, Georgia’s players have had to follow all the various scenarios that go into a three-way division tie.
Finally, now, the future is right in front of them.
“It’s clearer now,” cornerback Bruce Thornton said. “You can see more of the picture.”
The Wildcats, who haven’t beaten Tennessee since 1984, fell to 4 overall and 1-6 in the SEC.
Georgia’s win was its 14th straight at home and allowed it seniors, who were playing their final home game, to leave school with a 22-3 home record.
The Bulldogs won with more style points Saturday than they have all season. They reintroduced their no-huddle offense and rolled up 442 total yards, while holding the Wildcats to 212 yards and their lowest point total in this series since 1995.
Georgia hadn’t run the no-huddle since last season.
“I don’t know why I did it,” Richt said. “I just missed it I guess.”
The return was an early hit as the Bulldogs scored a touchdown on their first drive after just five plays and one minute, 15 seconds.
Quarterback David Greene finished 24 of 38 for 289 yards, his second most prolific day of the season. Fred Gibson led the Bulldogs with six catches for 99 yards.
“(The no-huddle) felt good today,” Greene said. “If you’re moving the ball well, you feel great. We did a good job today of executing and keeping them pretty tired.”
Kentucky didn’t go quietly, though, tying the game on its first possession with a 1-yard sneak by quarterback Jared Lorenzen. The Bulldogs added 10 more first half points on fullback Jeremy Thomas’ first career touchdown run and a field goal by Billy Bennett to take a 17-7 halftime lead.
From there, the defense took over, holding Kentucky to just 67 second half yards. Thomas Davis led Georgia with 11 tackles and Gerald Anderson and Robert Geathers each added a sack.
"You have to give Georgia’s defense credit,” Lorenzen said. “You have (David) Pollack coming around the corner on nearly every play, and their safety and cornerbacks made several good plays today.”
Lorenzen had the worst game of his career against the Bulldogs, completing 21 of 34 passes for 137 yards.
Kentucky pulled within a touchdown when Taylor Begley hit a 48-yard field goal with 10:34 left in the third quarter to make the score 17-10. But Georgia got two more Bennett field goals and a garbage-time touchdown from Ronnie Powell to end the scoring.
“We’re playing well right, we just have to keep the thing rolling,” Greene said.
The have to keep it rolling at least one more week in order to have a shot to defend their SEC championship.
“It’s clearer and clearer,” senior tight end Ben Watson said. “One more week to keep our head above water, and we’ll be in Atlanta.”
Only if the ‘Cats do their part again.