Georgia shut out Kentucky Saturday and nearly blanked the Wildcats as well in the passing game.
Wide receiver turned quarterback Lynn Bowden started 0-for-9 passing and the Wildcats were threatening to be the first team to not complete a pass against the Bulldogs since Cal State Fullerton in 1992.
That indignity ended on a 9-yard pass to Bryce Oliver with 4:28 to go in the Bulldogs’ 21-0 victory in a game where there was only one pass longer than 10 yards by either team all night.
Georgia posted its second shutout of the season—the other 55-0 against Arkansas State—and the fourth in Smart’s four seasons.
“The goal is 13 points or less,” inside linebacker Monty Rice said. “Nobody ever said we can’t hold them to zero.”
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Kentucky was held to a season-low 177 total yards of offense.
“Our defense, they held us on their backs until we were able to get it going tonight,” offensive guard Ben Cleveland said. “Props to them for doing what they do every single week.”
The teams combined for 52 yards passing in a game where constant rain affected both teams ability to make plays in the air.
Bowden was 2 of 15 for 17 yards and wideout Josh Ali’s one pass also fell incomplete. Five different Georgia players had pass breakups.
Bowden was 7 of 11 for 78 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 196 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries in a 24-20 win against Arkansas last week.
Bowden was held to 99 rushing yards on 17 carries Saturday.
“He’s an elite player playing out of position,” Rice said. “It’s kind of like high school. Put the best player at quarterback and everybody else go block for him. He made a couple of plays. He’s a playmaker but we just kept hitting him, kept going after him and got the job done.”
Senior Ahmad Wagner was targeted five times and came up empty handed.
The 6-foot-5, 238-pound former Iowa basketball player had 12 catches for 248 yards this season with 11 pass interference penalties against him in 35 targets.
Georgia didn’t have any pass interference calls all night.
“It was a lot of eye discipline,” Stokes said. “We knew they were going to throw it and it would be shot, shot, shot.”
Stokes was in coverage when Bowden scrambled under pressure and tried to hit Wagner on the back of the end zone.
Bowden had low pass to Wagner on third-down fell incomplete in the shadow of the goal line.
“It was wet, a little muddy and a little cold,” Bowden said. “You know, football weather. It was hard to throw the ball. I had to find the right grip on the ball.”
A wide open Chris Rodriguez dropped a pass in the end zone when he leaped up but couldn’t come down with it.
“Look, their offensive staff did a great job to take a kid who’s not really a quarterback and try to make him into a quarterback,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “At the end of the day you have to defend him differently, so it created a lot of issues for us.”
Smart said Georgia played off coverage and assigned somebody to Bowden on every play.
“The people assigned to him sometimes might not be the same athlete that he is,” he said.
He added: “One-on-one situations all day outside and you’re one play away, in weather like that it’s a one possession game most of the game. It puts a lot of pressure on your defense to be able to play in those conditions against a guy like that.”