Georgia vs. Kentucky Series History

Kyle Funderburk

The Georgia series against Kentucky is one that wouldn't exist without the SEC because it didn't exist before the SEC. In 1932, 12 schools from the bloated, 23-team Southern Conference left to form the Southeastern Conference. Seven years later, Georgia and Kentucky met for the first time in Louisville. The Wildcats won 13-6.

However, Bulldogs victories soon began to define the series. After battling to a 7-7 tie in 1940, Georgia defeated Kentucky 7-6 in 1942 en route to the program's first SEC championship and consensus national championship. 

Kentucky, like many schools at the time, froze its football program in 1943, but it resumed play in 1944. Georgia and Kentucky met six times from 1944-1949 with the Bulldogs winning four of the meetings and two more SEC championships along the way.

Despite the losses to Georgia, the Wildcats were on the rise thanks to new head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. Bryant led Kentucky to wins over Georgia in 1947 and 1949, but the Bulldogs were absent from Kentucky's schedule in 1950. That year Kentucky finished 11-1, won the SEC championship, defeated Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl and claimed a small slice of the national title. 

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Georgia and Kentucky didn't meet on the field again until 1956. By then, Bryant had left for greener pastures as Kentucky prioritized Adolph Rupp and the basketball program over Bryant's football squad. That decision, while it turned Kentucky into a permanent basketball powerhouse, doomed the football program for a long time.

Since becoming a permanent series in 1956, the Wildcats have beat Georgia only nine times. Six of those wins came against teams with a winning percentage of .625 or less.

Notable games

2018: For the first time ever, both Georgia and Kentucky entered their meeting ranked in the top 10. Not only that, but with just one SEC loss and a win over Florida a piece, the Bulldogs and Wildcats were tied for first place in the SEC East.

Unfortunately for Kentucky, the game did not live up to its billing. A first-half injury to center Lamont Gaillard kept the score at 14-3 at halftime, but the Wildcats couldn't chip away at Georgia's lead until it was too late. A pair of touchdown runs for Georgia, including an 83-yarder by running back D'Andre Swift gave Georgia a 28-3 lead midway through the third quarter. The Bulldogs settled for field goals the rest of the way while Kentucky scored two touchdowns. Georgia won 34-17 and later claimed the SEC East Championship.

2008: Against any other team, this would have been a memorable game for the Bulldogs. Georgia won 42-38 thanks to wide receiver AJ Green's best catch as Bulldog and a miracle interception by Demarcus Dobbs. 

That win was against a Kentucky team that had lost three of its previous five games and would end the season 7-6 overall and 2-6 in SEC play. The 2006 loss at Kentucky was still a fresh wound and Georgia fans would rather forget the entire 2008 season. Because of those factors, the awesome performances of Green, quarterback Matthew Stafford, wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi and running back Knowshon Moreno that day are rarely talked about.

Georgia's defense struggled all day long and allowed a touchdown with 12 minutes left in the game to concede a 38-35 lead. Massaquoi fumbled on Georgia's next possession and it looked like the Wildcats were about to take over with a rushing attack that had dominated the Bulldogs all day. But, Georgia's defense hunkered down and forced a three-and-out. Then Massaquoi fumbled again, this time in Kentucky territory. The Wildcats moved the ball, but failed to reach field0goal range and had to punt again.

Georgia's offense took over on its own 15-yard-line with 3:40 left on the clock. Massaquoi made up for his previous fumbles with a 78-yard catch and run to move the Bulldogs to the Wildcats' 7-yard line. A sack moved Georgia back to the 11 where it faced a third-and-long situation. Kentucky forced Stafford out of the pocket where he dodged another tackler before lobbing a ball over four defenders in the end zone. Green leaped up above everyone to make the catch, putting Georgia ahead 42-38.

The game still had some drama, however. Kentucky returned the ensuing kickoff to its own 37-yard line and swiftly moved into Georgia territory with a 29-yard pass. The Bulldogs stopped Kentucky on fourth down, but a facemask penalty gave the Wildcats a first down at the Bulldogs' 13-yard line. Kentucky attempted a screen pass, but Georgia knew what was coming. Quarterback Randall Cobb tried to lob the ball to the running back, but Dobbs put a hand in the air to bat the ball down and when the ball hit his chest, he clutched it for the game-ending interception.

1998: Now we go from one seldom talked about performance to another. The 1998 matchup between Georgia and Kentucky featured the quarterback duel of Quincy Carter vs. Tim Couch. Kentucky's gunslinger had the more productive arm that day, throwing for 326 yards. But Carter's 147 passing yards and 114 rushing yards were enough to win. While Carter's running helped define Georgia's win, Couch's lack of that ability helped define Kentucky's loss.

With the Wildcats leading 10-0 early in the game, Couch failed to pick up the final yard on a drive that would have put Kentucky ahead 17-0. Carter led a long touchdown drive, finishing with a 49-yard scoring run to cut the lead to 10-7. From there the game became a shootout and Georgia eventually found itself leading 28-26 with mere seconds left on the clock. Kentucky lined up for a game-winning field goal, but no kick was attempted. The Wildcats fumbled the snap and Georgia tackled holder Matt Mumme as time expired.

1978: That season's Bulldogs squad earned the nickname "Wonderdogs" because of an ability to win games in the last minute. Their 17-16 victory over Kentucky was no exception. Rex Robinson kicked a 29-yard field goal as time expired while Larry Munson exclaimed that Robinson "kicked the whatchamacallit out of it!"

Robinson's kick was really the easiest part of the game. Georgia trailed 16-0 in the third quarter before Jeff Pyburn and Willie McClendon fired up Georgia's veer offense. McClendon scored once on the ground to cut the score to 16-7 and Pyburn later connected with Ulysses Norris to further trim the lead to 16-14.

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