No. 1 Georgia tops Kentucky, goes unbeaten in SEC again

Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Between Kenny McIntosh and Jack Podlesny, top-ranked Georgia got all the important points it needed on a day where style points weren’t possible.

McIntosh rushed for a career-best 143 yards, including a crucial 9-yard score late in the third quarter, and the Bulldogs 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 came away as just the third SEC team since 1992 to post consecutive 8-0 league marks, following Alabama (2008-09) and Florida (1995-96).

Georgia’s success wasn’t easy in cold, windy conditions, and it settled for three Podlesny field goals before McIntosh’s TD provided a needed cushion.

“With these weather conditions, we’re going to play these kind of games like this,” coach Kirby Smart said. “But I’m really proud of when our guys’ backs are against the wall, how they come out fighting with what they do.

“Certainly, we could’ve played better, probably in the red area. They could have stopped some drives defensively; we gave them a couple of conversions on penalties. I have to give Kentucky a lot of credit for bouncing back and being a really physical football team.”

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 after a low, rolling snap.

Kentucky (6-5, 3-5) then turned it over on downs and lost for the fifth time in seven games.

McIntosh rushed a career-high 19 times with a 26-yarder for the Bulldogs, who outgained Kentucky 365-297 and 247-89 on the ground.

“It was real big,” McIntosh said of his TD. “We had been driving the ball the whole field, but we knew that we needed to score on that drive to come out strong and get the ball rolling on the ground. We had preached during halftime that we needed to go out there and start stronger and be physical on the line of scrimmage.”

The senior back’s previous best was 90 yards on 16 attempts against Florida last month.

“Kenny ran the ball really well tonight,” Smart added. “Probably could’ve had more, but he had to share with some other guys.”

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, which dropped its 13th in row against Georgia.

The Wildcats had been picked to finish second behind Georgia in the East and were ranked as high as No. 7 in the AP Top 25 in late September before spiraling downward with painful division losses to South Carolina, No. 5 Tennessee and last week’s shocking 24-21 home loss to Vanderbilt that snapped the Commodores’ 26-game SEC losing streak.

‘DAWG DAY AFTERNOON

Georgia’s second-ranked scoring defense (11.6 points per game coming in) remained stingy in holding Kentucky to just 119 yards before halftime and scoreless through three quarters. Kentucky’s 99-yard TD drive after making a goal-line stand spoiled the Bulldogs’ shutout bid, but they limited the Wildcats to just 3 of 11 on third down and 1 of 3 on fourth.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

It wasn’t pretty, but Georgia should maintain its perch atop the AP Top 25 and College Football Playoff rankings.

THE TAKEAWAY

Georgia: Denied their usual offensive explosiveness by Kentucky’s stiff defense, the Bulldogs had to settle for whatever they could get. The numbers ended up decent, converting 6 of 12 third-down chances and edging the Wildcats in time of possession (30:02-29:58). Their stingy defense pitched a shutout for three quarters, highlighted by Kelee Ringo‘s end-zone interception of Levis, and held off Kentucky’s last-ditch attempts to make it close.

Kentucky: With nowhere to go but up after an all-around 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.

“After a tough loss a week ago, getting them motivated to compete at a high level (was our priority),” coach Mark Stoops said. “It took a lot of digging and soul-searching and the competitive nature of our players to reinvest and commit and to put in that kind of effort. We came up short, but the effort, the preparation was there.”

UP NEXT

Georgia faces in-state rival Georgia Tech on Saturday.

Kentucky hosts in-state rival Louisville on Saturday, seeking its fourth consecutive series victory.

Texas State hires Incarnate Word coach Kinne to lead Bobcats

Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

Texas State hired Incarnate Word coach G.J. Kinne on Friday to lead a Sun Belt program that has had only one winning season since moving up to the Bowl Subdivision in 2012.

The 34-year-old former Tulsa quarterback has made a fast rise in coaching since ending his professional career in 2017.

After three years as an offensive analyst at SMU, Arkansas and the Philadelphia Eagles, Kinne became offensive coordinator at Hawaii in 2020. He held the same role for UCF in 2021 before landing the head coaching job at FCS Incarnate Word this season.

Incarnate Word is 10-1 and averaging 53 points and 8.3 yards per play, both FCS highs, heading into its playoff game Saturday against Furman. Kinne will remain with Incarnate Word through their playoff run.

“It’s with great honor that I’m accepting the call to be next head football coach of the Texas State Bobcats,” Kinne said. “We are going to play fast, have relentless energy, and when the going gets tough, have the mental confidence to win tight games in the second half and represent the state of Texas. Eat ‘Em Up!”

Texas State fired Jake Spavital last week after the Bobcats won just 13 games in his four seasons.

Kinne signed a five-year contract, the school said. Terms were not immediately released.

“My goal was to hire someone with demonstrated leadership experience, success as a head coach, established relationships with Texas football coaches, and success with recruiting and developing players,” said Texas State President Kelly Damphousse. “I sought a leader with a plan to capitalize on our location in the heart of the best high school football in the country.”

Florida Atlantic hires Tom Herman as football coach

Getty Images
0 Comments

BOCA RATON, Fla. – Former Texas and Houston head coach Tom Herman will take over at Florida Atlantic as it heads into its first season in the American Athletic Conference.

The hire comes just days after FAU fired Willie Taggart, who went 15-18 in his three seasons with the Owls. Details of the contract with Herman were not immediately available.

“We are incredibly excited to welcome Tom Herman to Paradise,” FAU Director of Athletics Brian White said Thursday. “Throughout the process and the more we talked with Coach Herman, the more it became apparent to me that he was the right person to lead our football program. Beyond his knowledge of the game, which is obvious by his success over the years, he also truly cares about the young people in his program.”

FAU’s final season in Conference USA ended with a 5-7 record and an overtime loss to Western Kentucky. The Owls will be in the American next season.

Herman returns to college football after spending the 2021 season with the Chicago Bears as an offensive analyst.

Herman was 22-4 at Houston, a mark that helped him land the head coaching job at Texas where he went 32-18 with four straight bowl trips in 2017-2020. He also was an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Ohio State during the Buckeyes’ 2014 national championship season, as well as stops at Iowa State, Rice and Texas State.

“All the pieces are in place at FAU for us to be successful,” Herman said. “There are already great young men on this team, great facilities, a great location, a great recruiting base and great leadership, all of which are important to building a successful program.”