Georgia vs. Kentucky, 2006-2010
Fans might consider Kentucky a patsy, but Wildcats give the Dawgs the biggest fits
ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia's football schedule is littered with rivalry games, forcing the Bulldogs to prepare for matchups against South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Auburn and Georgia Tech each year.
Few Bulldogs fans perceive Kentucky as a rival, but few programs have given Georgia more headaches through the last five years than the Wildcats. Georgia is 3-2 against Kentucky since 2006 -- and the Bulldogs are only a miraculous 2008 Demarcus Dobbs interception away from being 2-3.
"Maybe we need to make it a rivalry, honestly," Georgia tight end Aron White said. "They're a team that definitely has come in and competed against us. Even in the games that we've won, a lot of them have come down to the wire. It's kind of scary to think that this team that everybody kind of forgets about is a team that's kind of been knocking us around a little these past couple years and been playing us close."
Georgia (8-2, 6-1 SEC) is a 30.5-point favorite over the visiting Wildcats (4-6, 1-5) this weekend, but the Bulldogs have been favored by double digits twice in the last five meetings, losing in 2009 -- the last time Kentucky visited Athens on senior day -- and barely winning in 2008.
That is not to say that Georgia should have difficulty with an injury-riddled Wildcats team that lost to Vanderbilt by 30 points last weekend. But Bulldogs coach Mark Richt knows -- and recent history proves -- that Georgia can't afford to take Kentucky lightly.
"We know we've had our struggles with them," Richt said. "We've lost two of the last five games with them, and last time we were here we lost to them. We've had many of them kind of go down to the wire. Anytime we play Kentucky we know they are good enough to beat us, so that hasn't changed."
Here is a recap of Georgia's last five games against the Wildcats:
Georgia led 34-10 early in the third quarter before Kentucky tried to rally. Where the Bulldogs had been derailed by turnovers in this situation a year before, they mounted a clock-eating drive in the fourth quarter to secure the win. Blair Walsh's 30-yard field goal ended a 13-play drive that ran off 8 minutes, 5 seconds in the final period and prevented the Wildcats from creating any late-game heroics.
2009 -- The last time Kentucky visited Athens, the 10-point underdog Wildcats' 34-27 comeback victory produced one of the ugliest defeats in Richt's tenure. The Bulldogs led 20-6 at halftime and seemed well on their way to an easy win, but Branden Smith fumbled the second-half kickoff and Kentucky recovered at the Georgia 14-yard line, setting up a quick touchdown. It was the first of Georgia's four turnovers in the second half, which included one by Ealey at Kentucky's 1-yard line.
Georgia built its lead back to two touchdowns in the third quarter. Kentucky rallied to tie early in the fourth quarter, Georgia quarterback Joe Cox threw an ugly interception to Wildcats defensive tackle Shane McCord at the Georgia 23, which McCord returned to the 8. Kentucky would soon score the go-ahead touchdown and the Bulldogs would turn the ball over on both of their final possessions as Kentucky ruined Georgia's senior day.
2008 -- Georgia could easily have a losing record in its last five meetings with Kentucky if not for an incredible leaping interception by Dobbs. The defensive end's feat halted the Wildcats' final drive at Georgia's 18-yard line with 40 seconds remaining.
Up until that point, freshman Randall Cobb had carved up the Bulldogs' defense with 82 rushing yards, three touchdowns and 102 passing yards, mostly off screen passes like the one Dobbs intercepted. No. 14 Georgia entered as a nearly two-touchdown favorite, but traded the lead with Kentucky throughout the second half. Then Matthew Stafford hit Mohamed Massaquoi -- who fumbled on Georgia's previous possession -- with a 78-yard pass that set up Stafford's 11-yard touchdown pass to leaping freshman A.J. Green with 1:54 to play. Kentucky drove to the Georgia 13 before Dobbs' interception allowed the Bulldogs to breathe a huge sigh of relief with a 42-38 win.
2007 -- In the midst of an emotional seven-game winning streak to end the season, Georgia came out a bit flat against Kentucky in the Bulldogs seniors' final home game. The Bulldogs turned the ball over three times in their first four possessions and trailed 10-0 early. They were down 10-7 at halftime before rallying in the second half behind running backs Knowshon Moreno and Thomas Brown. Georgia's suffocating defense sacked Wildcats quarterback Andre Woodson five times and limited Kentucky to 29 rushing yards.
A week after the memorable "Blackout" win against Auburn and with rival Georgia Tech waiting a week later, it was understandable that Georgia would struggle in a senior day trap game sandwiched between the two. It took the Bulldogs a half, but they finally snapped out of their early funk to win 24-13 as they pushed toward a Sugar Bowl berth.
2006 -- One might expect that it would be impossible for the defending SEC champion Bulldogs to suffer a more devastating loss than their 24-22 homecoming defeat against Vanderbilt in 2006. Georgia might have pulled it off in Lexington, when a 24-20 loss to Kentucky was their fourth in five games.
Kentucky took the lead on a Tony Dixon touchdown run with 1:21 to play and Wildcats defensive back Trevard Lindley halted Georgia's last-ditch attempt at a comeback, intercepting a Stafford pass at the Kentucky 41 with 51 seconds remaining. Wildcats fans stormed the field and tore down the goalposts while celebrating Kentucky's first win over Georgia in 10 tries, as the dejected Bulldogs trudged toward the locker room.
David Ching covers University of Georgia sports for DawgNation. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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