Three takeaways from Kentucky football’s loss at No. 1 Georgia

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Three takeaways from No. 11 Kentucky’ football’s 30-13 loss to the No. 1-ranked Georgia Bulldogs in Athens on Saturday:

1. Georgia is the best football team in the country

UK Coach Mark Stoops in the postgame: “I don’t know how many great teams there are out there this year in college football. I know this (Georgia) team is.”

More Stoops: “That’s a complete football team.”

Kirby Smart has built a monster. Three straight No. 1 recruiting classes have afforded the Bulldogs a treasure trove of talent that Smart has developed into the nation’s most dominant team. Hands down. Georgia is 7-0 overall and 5-0 in the SEC for a reason. Its “ridiculous” defense has allowed just four touchdowns through seven games. And two of those TDs came Saturday, the fourth with just four seconds left and the outcome long decided.

Georgia’s dominant defense is obviously its strength, but the Bulldogs put up 30 points on a very good Kentucky defense. Georgia’s backs ran hard and were effective. Quarterback Stetson Bennett, making his fourth start while JT Daniels heals a lat strain, made the plays he needed to make. And true freshman tight end Brock Bowers caught two TD passes. Forget future star. The California native is a star right now.

It says here no one is beating Georgia this year. Not in the SEC. Not in the College Football Playoff. And despite its record, Kentucky wasn’t going to beat Georgia without something weird happening on Saturday. Nothing weird went on in Sanford Stadium.

2. That said, Kentucky should take home some positives

Again Stoops, this time when asked about taking positive from a defeat: “We’re not into that anymore.”

Said defensive end Josh Paschal: “Losing is not something we are used to now.”

Despite the final score, not everything was bad for UK at Sanford Stadium on Saturday. The Cats scored 13 points, matching the most given up by Georgia in a game this season. Offensive coordinator Liam Coen put together three long drives — 13 plays, 75 yards and a touchdown in the second quarter; nine plays, 40 yards that ended in a blocked field goal on the final play of the third quarter; and a mammoth 22-play, 75-yard drive near the end of the game with UK scoring just four seconds before the final horn.

In his postgame press conference, Stoops received several questions about calling timeout with seven seconds left to take one more crack at the end zone from the Georgia 1-yard line. The Cats made good on the opportunity with Will Levis throwing a 1-yard TD pass to Wan’Dale Robinson.

Was the UK coaching trying to send a message? No, he said. “I wanted to score, and we did,” he said.

Another positive: Levis. The Kentucky quarterback “played his tail off” said Stoops. Levis completed 32 of 42 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. He hung in there against Georgia’s pass rush. And he made some nice throws into tight windows. His play received in-game kudos from CBS analyst Gary Danielson, who said that with a little work, UK’s quarterback “has a bright future” ahead of him.

Unfortunately, Levis didn’t get much help from the Cats’ running game. Kentucky’s strength didn’t match Georgia’s strength. The Cats could never crack the code, gaining 51 yards on the ground on 27 carries. Give credit to the Georgia defense.

3. It’s a good time for Kentucky’s off week

The Cats aren’t back in action again until Oct. 30 at Mississippi State. Truth is, they are banged up. And from what we hear, they’re more banged up than they are letting on. Wide receiver Josh Ali and defensive linemen Marquan McCall and Octavious Oxendine all missed Saturday’s game because of injuries. Tight end Izayah Cummings appeared to suffer a shoulder injury near game’s end. And Stoops confirmed that offensive lineman Darian Kinnard, while not injured, is playing through pain. The off week comes at a good time.

Not that Stoops is going to give his team too much time off. He made that clear in Saturday’s postgame press conference. The team will get Monday off, but Tuesday it’s back to work. “We’re going to fight through this,” he said.

“We’re going to digest the loss and move on,” Levis said. “With the off week, there won’t be any excuses for a lack of preparation against Mississippi State.”

After all, there is plenty left for which to play for this 7-1 team. After Mississippi State, UK plays Tennessee at home, Vanderbilt on the road, New Mexico State at home and Louisville on the road. This team has an excellent shot at nine, 10 or maybe even 11 wins by the end of the regular season.

Degree of difficulty: How hard will it be for Kentucky to finish 11-1?

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Five things you need to know from Kentucky football’s 30-13 loss to Georgia

First Scouting Report: At Mississippi State, can UK throw off its ‘Starkville hex?’

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