Georgia out-slugged Kentucky Saturday afternoon in Lexington, prevailing with a 14-3 victory over the upset-minded Wildcats.
The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs road the ground game throughout the day, pounding out 215 yards on 43 carries with Zamir White gaining a career-high 136 yards on 26 carries.
Redshirt junior quarterback Stetson Bennett was 9-of-13 passing for 131 yards with two interceptions in his fourth career start for UGA (4-1), which has won 11 straight in its series with Kentucky (2-4).
Smart made it clear at halftime he was standing behind Bennett.
“Stetson has done a nice job, we only had three (first-half) possessions,” Smart said. “He did a good job on one of them, one of them we come up just short, we’re third and 5 or 6 inches short, and the other one we throw a pick on the tipped ball.”
James Cook was the Bulldogs’ leading receiver, catching four passes for 62 yards. Cook had the longest play of the game, a 46-yard pass reception.
BREAKING NEWS: George Pickens not with team at Kentucky
Georgia played without receiver George Pickens (upper body injury) and tailback Kenny McIntosh (knee), neither of whom made the trip to Kentucky.
The Bulldogs lost starting nose tackle Jordan Davis and his backup, senior Julian Rochester, to injury in the game with the Wildcats. Georgia linebacker Quay Walker (neck) and safety Lewis Cine (ankle) also left the game.
Kentucky QB Joey Gatewood, making his first career start for the Wildcats, was 15-of-25 for 91 yards.
Kentucky tailback Chris Rodriquez, from McDonough, Ga., became the second runner to break the 100-yard barrier against the Bulldogs in as many games, carrying 20 times for 108 yards.
Georgia plays their designated home game with Florida next Saturday in Jacksonville against the Gators.
• Quay Walker down with injury, 9:38
Georgia 14, Kentucky 3, (11:38): Zamir White 22-yard run (Jack Podlesny kick), Drive: 7 plays, 75 yards, 3:22. Key play: Darnell Washington 33-yard catch from Stetson Bennett.
Injury Update: First and second-string nosetackles Jordan Davis and Julian Rochester out for game.
Kirby Smart halftime quote
• Jack Podlesny 53-yard field goal attempt blocked.
• Georgia interception on first-and-goal at Kentucky 10.
Georgia 7, Kentucky 3 (2:44 ): Matt Ruffolo 34-yard field goal Drive: 19 plays, 77 yards, 10:28. Key play: Chris Rodriguez 3-yard run on fourth-and-1 at Georgia 43.
• Georgia DT Julian Rochester injured, play stopped with Kentucky facing first-and-10 at UGA 40.
• 27 plays, two passes, one from each team
FIRST QUARTER SCORING
Georgia 7, Kentucky 0 (6:07): Stetson Bennett 2-yard run (Jack Podlesny kick); Drive: 12 plays, 86 yards, 5:06. Key play: Kendall Milton 14-yard run to Kentucky 27. Note: All 12 plays rushing plays.
Georgia wins toss, defers
• Quay Walker starts in place of Monty Rice
ATHENS — Georgia football knows to tighten its chinstraps for Kentucky today, a game that could look far easier on the scoreboard than it will feel on the sidelines.
Coach Kirby Smart says the Wildcats, a two-touchdown underdog in the noon kick on Saturday (TV: SEC Network) are annually one of the most physical showdowns on the schedule.
The way the Bulldogs look to play the game, it could turn into more of a throwback than representation of high-powered offense that UGA entered the season intent on playing.
DawgNation broke the news Saturday morning that receiver George Pickens is not with the team at Kentucky (upper body injury) and has also learned that tailback Kenny McIntosh is not expected to dress out.
McIntosh, who was limited during the bye week with a knee injury, ranks third in the nation in kick return average and is UGA’s most versatile back running and catching the football.
McIntosh is averaging 36.33 yards per kick return and has 19 carries for 92 yards along with 4 catches for 51 yards.
It’s fair to wonder how that might — or might not — change the game plan.
Smart said after losing to Alabama 41-24 and getting shutout on Oct. 17 that Georgia needed to get back to playing its brand of football, and many wonder what that might mean for the pass game.
The Bulldogs’ offensive line has improved as the season has progressed, and freshman Kendall Milton has emerged as a powerful force in the run game, leading some to wonder if UGA might take a step toward being more run heavy.
Redshirt junior Stetson Bennett struggled against Alabama (18-of-40 passing, 269 yards, 3 interceptions, 5 batted balls), but Smart has made it clear UGA is sticking with him.
“The big thing for us is how can we play around our quarterback.”
Redshirt freshman D’Wan Mathis has been taking reps with the second team and JT Daniels and Carson Beck are also at Kentucky and available to play if needed.
kickoff Noon, SEC Network
Georgia captains: Eric Stokes, Trey Hill, Malik Herrin
WR Matt Landers (shoulder) probable
LB Monty Rice (foot) probable
OT Owen Condon (unknown) probable
WR Arian Smith (knee) doubtful
RB Kenny McIntosh (knee) out
WR George Pickens (pectoral) out
DB Kelee Ringo (labrum) out
WR Dominick Blaylock (knee) out
Georgia at crossroads with offensive identity
Kirby Smart explains who carries the ball when and why
Teammates discuss Stetson Bennett, JT Daniels
Georgia working to help Stetson Bennett polish fundamentals
Kirby Smart updates Kenny McIntosh, Monty Rice injuries
Georgia looks to run game to help out pass game
Wake-up call, Kirby 2-3 in SEC Noon Kickoff games at Georgia