ATHENS — No slow start for Georgia this time. Instead, the No. 1-ranked Bulldogs seemed to be shot out of a cannon Saturday night at Sanford Stadium, scoring 34 first-half points and rolling to a 51-13 win over No. 20 Kentucky.

The cannon Georgia used was the right arm of junior quarterback Carson Beck. He completed his first 11 passes and threw the ball for 307 yards and three touchdowns in the first half alone. Nine of those first-half completions went to split end Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint and Brock Bowers for a combined 196 yards while the Bulldogs scored on all six of their first-half possessions.

Beck would finish with a career-best 389 yards and four touchdowns on 28-of-35 passing. He becomes the first Bulldog since Aaron Murray in 2013 to have three consecutive games of 300-plus yards passing.

The Bulldogs had incurred criticism for slow starts on offense, having scored only 17 points in the first quarter entering Saturday’s game. Georgia scored on its first six possessions of the game and surged ahead 21-0 in the opening 18:57.

“Obviously, it’s always nice to score on the first drive,” Beck said. “I actually said to some of the guys, ‘man, I want the ball first.’ I wanted to show we could come out and have a hot start. To go out and do that on the first drive instilled confidence in us the rest of the game.”

With quarterback Brock Vandagriff playing the last quarter and leading Georgia to another touchdown, the Bulldogs finished with 608 total yards. It was their first 600-plus effort since gaining 615 versus Missouri in 2020. Bowers had his third consecutive game with 100 yards receiving (139). Georgia also had 173 yards rushing and retained possession for more than 37 minutes.

It was the most dominant performance of the season for the Bulldogs (6-0, 3-0 SEC), who had to come-from-behind to win their first two SEC games. Georgia now has won 14 consecutive games over Kentucky, a school-record 23 consecutive games overall and 33 consecutive regular-season games. The two-time defending national champions now stand as the SEC’s only remaining undefeated team.

“We had a lot of people doubting us, saying we couldn’t do things, we can’t stop the run, we can’t do a lot of stuff,” Georgia safety Malaki Starks said. “For us to come out tonight and show who we really are was a huge win for us.”

It was the first loss of the season for the Wildcats (5-1, 2-1). No. 21 Missouri (5-1, 2-1) suffered its first blemish when it saw No. 23 LSU come from behind for a 49-39 win in Columbia earlier in the day Saturday.

“We probably didn’t get Kentucky’s best shot,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “We know they’re a better team than they played. In the SEC, humility is a week away. ... It certainly helps to start fast and do things well and execute the plan.”

The most impressive offensive possession for the Bulldogs might’ve have been the last one of the first half, and it didn’t end in a touchdown. With only 23 seconds remaining before halftime, Beck got an interference call on a deep ball for Rara Thomas, then two completions to Daijun Edwards for 23 yards to move Georgia from its own 38 to field-goal range in 19 seconds. Reaching the Kentucky 24, freshman kicker Peyton Woodring was good from 42 yards, and the Wildcats trotted off Dooley Field for their locker room stunned to be trailing 34-7.

Smart told the TV audience he was not happy with the ease with which Kentucky was moving the football, especially when penalties didn’t impede its progress. They gained only 127 yards in the opening half, but they drove 75 yards in 10 plays on one drive and scored a touchdown to make the score 21-7.

The Wildcats’ efforts were helped on that possession with a questionable roughing-the-passer call against defensive tackle Warren Brinson and a big defensive delay of game that turned a fourth-and-8 into fourth-and-3, setting up the Kentucky score on a 5-yard pass.

Meanwhile, Bowers and center Sedrick Van Pran hobbled off the field with leg injuries. Third-year sophomore Jared Wilson filled in at center, and Georgia scored twice before halftime with him over the ball. Both players were able to return, Bowers in the first half and Van Pran in the second.

Beck made his first mistake of the game on the Bulldogs’ first possession of the third quarter, and it was a big one. His pass over the head of Dominic Lovett was intercepted by Kentucky’s Maxwell Harrison, who returned it 48 yards to the Georgia 28. Ray Davis would score on the second play, going 26 yards to the end zone on a screen right against a blitz. The Wildcats two-point conversion attempt failed, and the Bulldogs led 34-13.

Georgia answered with a clock-consuming 56-yard drive that ended with another Woodring field goal to make the score 37-13. The Bulldogs would get just one more offensive possession in the third quarter. This time, when Beck hit Bowers with a 21-yard touchdown on a seem route down the south-side hash marks, Georgia led 44-13 with 39 seconds remaining in the third quarter, both players’ nights were over.

The Bulldogs’ maligned defense deserves some credit as well. They limited Davis – who had 280 yards rushing and four TDs in a win over Florida last week – to only 59 yards through three quarters with a long run of 11. Linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson sacked Devin Leary twice, combining with cornerback Kamari Lassiter on one of them, and Georgia brought down the Kentucky quarterback three times. The Wildcats were left scrambling to get to 200 yards of offense in the fourth quarter. A week after rushing for 329 yards against Florida, they managed only 55 versus Georgia.

“We had to man up at some point,” Dumas-Johnson said. “They had the best rushing offense, so it was a big challenge. We knew it was going to be hard for them to do it in our house.”

The sudden surge of dominance was well-timed for the Bulldogs. They travel to Vanderbilt (2-5, 0-3) for a game at noon Saturday, then will get a week off to heal before heading to Jacksonville to face Florida on Oct. 28. The Gators (4-2, 2-1) defeated the Commodores 38-14 early Saturday in Nashville. Florida visits South Carolina next Saturday.

“I’m only concerned about what we can do from this game to get better for the next one,” Smart said. “We want to be elite at getting better.”