November 8, 2014
Overall Record: 53-12-2
Last 10 Meetings: 8-2
Richt vs. Kentucky: 11-2
After a while it’s hard to figure out what to write about Kentucky. Sure, Kentucky is a basketball school, but the Commonwealth will support a winner. But winning isn’t something the Cats have done on the gridiron over the last five years.
When Rich Brooks left in 2009 much of the success the Cats had in the 2000s went with him. Kentucky won 30 games in four seasons. They beat Clemson, LSU, Florida State, Arkansas, Auburn and both Georgia and Louisville twice.
Joker Phillips’ Kentucky squad upset #10 South Carolina in 2010 after narrowly losing to #8 Auburn on a game-winning field goal as time expired. Since upsetting the Gamecocks, Kentucky has won three conference football games – and that’s just not good enough for anyone.
In the Kentucky football renaissance of the late 1990s, the school expanded Commonwealth Stadium by almost 10,000 seasons – from 57,800 in 1997 to 67,530 in 1999. Over the next decade the Cats settled in at 67,942. But now the school is contracting its seating to around 61,000. The $110 million in stadium renovations include an overall upgrade of many aspects of the stadium (press box, box and club seats, recruiting area, lighting, etc.), but that all is being done with the stadium being contracted.
They aren’t taking any seats out of Rupp Arena if you get what I mean.
No matter the state of Commonwealth Stadium, Georgia tends to struggle or underperform in Lexington. That’s not unique to Mark Richt teams (think about Georgia’s loss in Lexington in 1996, or the 1988 loss in the Bluegrass that cost Vince Dooley the SEC title in his last season as coach) – Georgia tends to struggle in Kentucky just the way it does in Nashville. Usually the game is sloppy, but Georgia wins.
The last time Georgia traveled to Lexington (2012) a team that came four yards from winning the SEC title struggled mightily to beat a bad Kentucky team. 2010 was a shootout; in 2008 Matthew Stafford and A.J. Green had to connect late to beat an overmatched Kentucky; in 2006 the Cats upset Georgia. So in the last four trips to Lexington, Georgia is 3-1, but the game has been in doubt on the last series of the game in two of those three wins.
Part of it is that any SEC team is going to play well at home – that happens. Part of it is that Kentucky’s stadium is small by SEC standards, and the Dawgs (and other programs) tend to fall asleep when the stadium isn’t packed. Also, Kentucky has a roster that’s got very good representation from the Peach State. Most Kentucky players call the Bluegrass State home, but the state with the second most players on the Cats’ roster is Georgia.