Georgia can look forward to the return of Todd Gurley for an all-or-nothing game against No. 3 Auburn next week after scoring another impressive SEC road victory over Kentucky on Saturday.
The Wildcats can look forward to basketball season starting on Friday.
The Bulldogs (7-2, 5-2 SEC) got two kick returns for touchdowns from Isaiah McKenzie and scored on every offensive possession besides a kneel-down to end the first half before they took their foot off the accelerator in the fourth quarter. Georgia had 445 yards offense and led 56-24 at that point. The final tally of 63-31 represented the most points scored by the Bulldogs in an SEC game since 1942, when they beat Florida 75-0.
“It’s going to be fun to watch that tape,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said of the offensive onslaught that totaled 559 yards. “We didn’t punt. We didn’t turn the ball over. Just an awesome day.”
The victory was Georgia’s third in four games, all away from Sanford Stadium. The Bulldogs will play at home for the first time in six weeks on Saturday when they play host to the Tigers. A victory and a Missouri loss will win the East and put Georgia in the SEC championship game for the third time in the last four years.
Saturday’s game was, plain and simple, an offensive clinic by the Bulldogs. Senior Hutson Mason had his most efficient day as Georgia’s starting quarterback, completing 13-of-16 passes for 174 yards and four touchdowns without an interception.
It was quite a contrast to last week, when the Bulldogs scored just 20 points in an 18-point loss to Florida.
“I don’t think there was an importance in the way we won,” Mason said. “The important part was how we responded. In lifeyou get hit in the chin, you face adversity, people call for your job, people are going to say you stink. For us, for anybody, it’s how you respond.”
The game also marked the triumphant return of freshman tailback Sony Michel. After sitting out the past six weeks with a broken shoulder-blade, Michel backed up Nick Chubb and had 84 yards and a touchdown as the freshmen combined for 254 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 29 carries.
Meanwhile, Gurley watched the game back home in Athens after missing his fourth game due to NCAA suspension for accepting improper benefits. He’ll play his first game next Saturday since being declared eligible by UGA on Oct. 9.
“(Opponents) will just have to deal with it,” Chubb said of the three backs being united after this week. “I’m glad on this side of the ball playing with these guys instead of trying to defend it. I can’t imagine.”
Georgia didn’t run away with this one until the back stretch. The Bulldogs had an 11-point lead when they kicked off to Kentucky to open the second half. But the Wildcats, who rolled up 238 yards offense in the first half, tripped up on their first possession of the third quarter.
Quarterback Patrick Towles found Ryan Timmons open over the middle and fired a hard pass to him just inside the hash marks. But the football careened off Timmons’ hands and Georgia’s Corey Moore was there to make a diving interception before the ball hit the ground.
Taking over at the Kentucky 36, Georgia used four Chubb runs to set up a play-action pass from Mason from the 10. Tight end Jeb Blazevich hauled it in to quickly stretch the lead to 42-24.
The Bulldogs’ defense, victimized in the first half, forced the Wildcats into a three-and-out. McKenzie caught the subsequent punt near the UGA sideline, dodged two defenders, then took it to the other side of the field on the way to a 59-yard return for a touchdown.
It was McKenzie’s second special-teams score of the day. The 5-foot-8, 164-pound freshman from Miami had a 90-yard touchdown return on the games opening kickoff, giving him three kick-return TDs for the season.
The Wildcats couldn’t stop Georgia in the first half, but neither could the Bulldogs slow down them. The result was 59 combined points and 524 yards offense. The chief difference in the 35-24 halftime lead by Georgia was the 90-yard kickoff return to open the game by McKenzie.
At that point, the Bulldogs had only five offensive possessions and scored touchdowns on every one. On the sixth, they took over at their own 5.
Didn’t matter. Georgia ran the ball of nine of 12 plays and got an 18-yard catch from Malcolm Mitchell on third-and-five before Michel broke loose for a 23-yard touchdown run.
The Bulldogs were able to finish the game with backups, including quarterback Brice Ramsey, who threw an 8-yard TD pass to Jeb Blazevich.