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STUDENT ATHLETES

Is Georgia-Kentucky a Football Rivalry in the Making?

It’s been a one-sided series so far, but Kentucky is now an undefeated top-15 team and Georgia is the new No. 1. Here we go.

A regular season game between Georgia and Kentucky isn’t supposed to draw all the headlines, even if the two programs do play in the mighty SEC. In fact, Georgia and Kentucky have never been true rivals in football. The all-time series, which dates back to 1939, is 60-12-2 in favor of the Bulldogs. Georgia is currently on the longest winning streak in the series’ history at 11, going unbeaten since 2009, when they lost to a Kentucky team that went on to finish 7-6. 

Though Kentucky has had winning seasons in four of the last five years, it has not been able to conquer the Bulldogs. The closest that they’ve come over that span in 2016, when they lost by three points. Since then, the matchups haven’t been close. Georgia has handled Kentucky with ease, winning 42-13, 34-17, 21-0, and 14-3. 

But this weekend’s contest has all the makings of something different. And if we continue on our current course for a few more years, something fascinating cold be brewing between these two SEC East foes.

The Season So Far

After Texas A&M upset Alabama last weekend, Georgia became the top-ranked college football program in the country. The Bulldogs have a stifling defense that has only allowed three touchdowns in five games.

Their worst defensive showing? A 40-13 win over South Carolina.

Georgia’s offense hasn’t quite matched the same production as the defense, with an injury to quarterback JT Daniels further complicating matters (though Stetson Bennett has stepped in admirably). The Bulldogs are not ranked in the top 25 in total yards, passing yards, rushing yards, or points scored.

Still, it hasn’t mattered. Dan Lanning’s fearsome defense has keyed all six wins, with five coming by double digits.

For Kentucky, the Wildcats got a signature win against the Florida Gators two weeks ago that put the nation on notice. It’s their only win over a ranked team so far, but four of their six victories overall have come against SEC competition.

The schedule gets interesting from here, however. Kentucky opened the season with five out of six games at home and, after Georgia, still has to travel to Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, and Louisville.

The State of Big Blue Nation

After having five straight losing seasons from 2011-15, Kentucky has had a resurgence in football. Since 2016, the Wildcats have gone 7-6, 7-6, 10-3, 8-5, and 5-6. To many Wildcat fans and alumni, they consider last year’s losing season an anomaly in the recent streak of winning seasons. And when the Wildcats have gone to a bowl game, they’ve been successful, winning their last three.

Under Mark Stoops’ increasingly impressive head coaching tenure, the No. 11 Wildcats’ sights are set a little higher this year. They’re not just undefeated — they’re 6-0 for the first time since 1950. A famous upset win over Georgia on Saturday would put them alone in first place in the SEC East, making a conference title game appearance a real possibility, as shocking as it may sound.

And if and when that happens, it will be time to say it out loud: Kentucky is a football school.

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Dawgs on the Ascent

The Bulldogs have been one of the more dominant college football programs in the nation under Kirby Smart. Still, they have yet to capture a national championship under his leadership. All told, Smart has never led the Bulldogs to a losing season, and in his second year, he nearly won a national title before Tua Tagovailoa led a dramatic, late-game comeback for Alabama in January 2018.

In recent seasons, Georgia has been in the playoff conversation until an ill-timed conference loss. This year, the Dawgs appear to be an early favorite to make the playoff, and with Kentucky entering this week undefeated, UGA has a chance to get another signature win. After that, they have a buy week before facing Florida — the only other ranked team remaining on their schedule.

Get through those two games and not much stands in the way between the Bulldogs and a spot in the playoff.

But jusk ask Florida — underestimating the Wildcats