Kentucky coach Mark Stoops holds his SEC Media Days news conference at the College Football Hall of Fame on Monday, July 16, 2018, in Atlanta. Kentucky came close to beating Georgia two years ago, but couldn’t keep up with the Bulldogs in 2017. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

Kentucky’s Mark Stoops needs a ‘cleaner game’ to beat Georgia 

Mark Stoops dodged the mass exodus that swept away six SEC head coaches last season, but his position at Kentucky may be in jeopardy if he doesn’t do some damage in the East this season. 

The path to the top of the division has become more challenging since Georgia hit a stride unseen since the 1980s, and Dan Mullen and Jeremy Pruitt took over storied programs at Florida and Tennessee, respectively. 

The Wildcats finished the 2017 with seven wins, but failed to snap the 31-year losing streak to Florida and couldn’t pull out a bowl game victory against Northwestern. A 42-13 loss to Georgia to close conference play last season dropped Kentucky to the bottom of the pack, and knocking off the SEC Champions this season may be harder than ever. 

“It will take a lot of things to go above (Georgia),” Stoops said when asked how Kentucky might bring the Dogs down. “Obviously Georgia is a very good football team, and we did have a close game with them two years ago at our place. Last year, it got away from us very quickly. It can do that when you play an exceptional football team. … We’ve got to play a cleaner game.” 

If the Wildcats hope to have a shot at winning the East, they’ll have to be nearly flawless in week 10 when the Bulldogs come to visit. 

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