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UK Football: Cats and Georgia eye SEC East title

October 18, 2010|By LARRY VAUGHT | larry@amnews.com
  • Kentucky’s Mike Hartline, center, and Larry Warford interact with fans as they leave the Commonwealth Stadium field Saturday after UK’s win over No. 10 South Carolina. (Clay Jackson photo)
Kentucky’s Mike Hartline, center, and Larry Warford interact with fans as they leave the Commonwealth Stadium field Saturday after UK’s win over No. 10 South Carolina. (Clay Jackson photo)

LEXINGTON — Kentucky and Georgia both started Southeastern Conference play with three straight losses. Yet both teams are talking about the possibility of winning the SEC Eastern Division going into Saturday night’s game here.

The Bulldogs, 3-4 overall, are now 2-3 in SEC after a 43-0 win over Vanderbilt following a 41-14 victory a week earlier against Tennessee. Kentucky, 4-3 overall, is 1-3 in conference action after knocking off then No. 10 South Carolina 31-28.

“People always say year in and year out that anybody can win on any given weekend, and that’s what’s happening right now,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said Sunday.

South Carolina still leads the SEC East at 2-2, but Georgia and Florida are only game behind at 2-3.

Kentucky coach Joker Phillips mentioned after the win over the Gamecocks that 5-3 could win the Eastern Division — a claim he did not back down from Sunday. For his Cats to do that, they would have to beat Georgia and follow that with wins over Mississippi State, Vanderbilt and Tennessee.

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“Every game is such a big game. It’s not like you have what some people might say is a game you should win. Every week there is a game where you have to fight, scratch and claw to win. We have one of those this week,” Phillips said.

“It is easier to get your points across that way. We cannot just relax and line up and just show up and beat a team like Georgia. You can’t do it, so that makes it easier to get our troops ready.”

Georgia still has to play Florida and Auburn after visiting Kentucky. Still, Richt believes anything is possible.

No one unbeatable

“No one has certainly proved to be an unbeatable team in our Eastern Division, or in our league for that matter,” Richt said. “There are some undefeated teams still, but even the teams that are undefeated have had some extremely close calls. It’s an exciting SEC year, no doubt.

“I think the one thing we had to do to win these last couple games was to kind of focus on the process of becoming a better football team instead of where we were in the league and that kind of thing. We just knew we had to be better and we have to keep being better because Kentucky is a very good team.”

Phillips says Georgia is, too, despite its losing record.

“They are playing really good on defense. They threw a shutout (on Vanderbilt), and that’s hard to do in this league. Their defense is one of the tops in the conference, and it shows. They have only given up 14 points in the last two weeks.” Phillips said.

“They are scoring a lot of points. The freshman quarterback is playing really good.

"He only has three interceptions on the year and has thrown for 1,600 yards and 12 touchdowns. They got (receiver) A.J. Green back (from a suspension) and he adds a different dimension to them and is big-time playmaker. He helps their running game with his ability to make plays on the perimeter.”

Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray threw for a career-high 287 yards and two touchdowns against Vanderbilt and Washaun Ealey had 123 yards rushing and a touchdown and Carlton Thomas ran for 40 yards and two touchdowns. Georgia had 547 total yards and held Vanderbilt to 140.

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