LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kenny McIntosh rushed for a career-best 143 yards, including a crucial 9-yard score late in the third quarter, and top-ranked Georgia withstood Kentucky’s fourth-quarter rally Saturday for a 16-6 win and its second consecutive unbeaten season in the Southeastern Conference.
The Bulldogs (11-0, 8-0 SEC, No. 1 CFP) clinched the Eastern Division title last week and sought another perfect finish in league play.
They succeeded but not without difficulty, settling for three Jack Podlesny field goals before McIntosh’s TD provided a needed cushion.
Georgia’s chance to pad the lead ended on downs at Kentucky’s 1. The Wildcats to made it interesting with a 99-yard drive that ended with Will Levis’ 8-yard touchdown pass to Barion Brown. Levis’ two-point conversion pass failed, and the chance to make it a one-score game died when Matt Ruffalo’s field goal hooked left.
Kentucky (6-5, 3-5) then turned it over on downs and lost for the fifth time in seven games.
McIntosh rushed 19 times with a 26-yarder for the Bulldogs, who outgained Kentucky 365-297. Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett completed 13 of 19 for 116 yards with an interception.
Levis completed 20 of 31 for 206 yards with an interception for Kentucky.
It wasn’t pretty, but Georgia should maintain its perch atop the AP Top 25 and College Football Playoff rankings.
Georgia: Denied their usual offensive explosiveness by Kentucky’s stiff defense, the Bulldogs had to settle for whatever they could get. Their defense pitched a shutout for three quarters and held off Kentucky’s last-ditch attempts to make it close.
Kentucky: With nowhere to go but up after a disastrous performance against Vanderbilt, the Wildcats did everything they needed to do in slowing down Georgia and coming up with a couple of critical defensive stops. They still faced a 16-point hole, though Levis did his part with his arm and feet to get them on the board against a bullish ’Dawgs defense.
Georgia faces in-state rival Georgia Tech on Saturday.
Kentucky hosts in-state rival Louisville on Saturday, seeking its fourth consecutive series victory.