It seems the handicappers have been off the mark, however not by a lot: Georgia was a three-touchdown favourite in opposition to Kentucky however ended solely profitable by 17 factors, 30-13, after the Wildcats scored a meaningless landing with no time left on the clock.
The flexibility to attain as soon as, not to mention twice, says one thing in regards to the once-unbeaten Wildcats, clearly the second-best group within the SEC East. That additionally says one thing in regards to the Bulldogs, who’re anticipated to dominate and have achieved simply that to stay the unbeaten and unquestioned No. 1 group within the USA TODAY Sports activities AFCA Coaches Ballot.
Each week paints the identical image. Behind two totally different beginning quarterbacks, certainly one of three working backs or any certainly one of a number of future NFL defenders popping off the display, the Bulldogs push round each group of their path.
After years of shut calls, disappointments and underachievement relative to expectations, Georgia has lastly come collectively beneath coach Kirby Sensible to be the undisputed prime group within the Soccer Bowl Subdivision and the favourite for the nationwide championship on the midpoint of the common season.
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What the Bulldogs resemble is extra of a classic SEC powerhouse than a group outlined by the wide-open offensive schemes which have gripped the convention. Whereas even Alabama has leaned into the unfold revolution, Georgia’s method has one foot extra firmly planted within the bodily fashion that propelled the SEC to greater than a decade of dominance.
A few of that could be because of the accidents which have slowed star quarterback JT Daniels, who modified the complexion of Georgia’s within the dwelling stretch of final season. With Daniels sidelined, the Bulldogs have turned to backup Stetson Bennett, who has stayed throughout the framework of an offense that has bullied each group on the schedule.
It is changing into extra obvious that Bennett can information the Bulldogs via the SEC East, together with this month’s rivalry recreation in opposition to Florida, and get Georgia to the doorstep of a convention championship. Nonetheless, to beat Alabama and lock down the highest spot in School Soccer Playoff may take a wholesome Daniels — with the expectation that the previous Southern California switch will finally get again into the lineup.
However the cause why Georgia stands on the prime of the FBS is that this protection, which is starting to place itself among the many finest models to come back via this century.
Kentucky’s landing within the second quarter was simply the third allowed by Georgia’s protection all season and the primary given up within the first half.
Later, the Wildcats’ try late within the third quarter to chop into what was then a 17-point gap was stymied by the Bulldogs’ goal-line protection, which pressured after which blocked a field-goal try. The landing with seconds left got here after Kentucky coach Mark Stoops known as timeout to increase the drive, drawing ire from Georgia’s dwelling crowd.
Total, Georgia gained 416 yards to Kentucky’s 243, with an enormous chunk of the Wildcats’ whole approaching the sport’s closing drive. About the one factor the Bulldogs did mistaken was miss a meaningless further level early within the fourth quarter, this system’s first such miss since 2014.
Now Georgia must deal with life because the unquestioned favourite. Historical past tells us this would be the greatest take a look at for Sensible and the Bulldogs, who’ve been knocking on the door however unable to seal the deal for many years as different SEC rivals — Alabama, Auburn, Florida and LSU — have claimed nationwide championships.
This yr’s group feels totally different. As different unbeaten groups fall off the board, Georgia retains rolling. Who can cease these Bulldogs from working the desk?