Wojo: Wolverines’ rebound is real, but full validation requires a Big Ten title

Saturday's Top 25: Stetson Bennett, 'D' lead No. 1 Georgia past No. 11 Kentucky

Associated Press

Athens, Ga. — The final seconds were meaningless.

Except to the Georgia defense.

For the first time all season, the fearsome Bulldogs gave up two touchdowns in a game Saturday. It didn’t really matter as they romped to another victory — their first as the nation’s new No. 1 team — with a 30-13 triumph over No. 11 Kentucky.

Still, their desire to keep Kentucky from scoring at the end, and the lengths the Wildcats went to for their second TD, epitomized where Georgia’s at right now.

Georgia tight end Darnell Washington leaps over Kentucky defender DeAndre Square for a first down during the first quarter.

The Bulldogs (7-0, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) aren’t content just to win.

They want to bury opponents.

“There may only be 4 seconds left in the fourth quarter, but we still don’t want anybody in our end zone,” linebacker Adam Anderson said. “I’m still hurting right now.”

Stetson Bennett, starting his third straight game in place of injured JT Daniels, threw for 250 yards and three touchdown passes — two of them to freshman tight end Brock Bowers.

With the game decided, Kentucky (6-1, 4-1) drove to a first down at the Georgia 1 in the final minute.

Will Levis was stuffed on a quarterback sneak. JuTahn McClain was stopped for no gain. Instead of letting the clock run out, the Wildcats called their final timeout.

Finally, they scored. Levis delivered a quick slant to Wan’Dale Robinson, who dove into the end zone with 4 seconds remaining, while what was left of the crowd at Sanford Stadium booed loudly.

TOP 25 SCOREBOARD

Georgia’s defense had given up only two touchdowns all season. Kentucky managed to double that total, though the Bulldogs weren’t done yet.

Clearly angry, they blocked the extra point to keep one last point off the board.

“It’s just pride,” said coach Kirby Smart, whose team is surrendering a miniscule 6.6 points a game. “When you’re competing at the highest levels to be the best in the country, that doesn’t change — regardless of the scoreboard or the time on the clock.”

The Bulldogs limited Kentucky to 243 total yards, while also blocking a field-goal attempt on the final play of the third quarter.

“They’re a great defense,” Levis said. “I think we were able to do some things that we’re going to be proud of looking at the tape, but could’ve had opportunities to do a little more.”

Sitting at 6-0 for the first time since 1950, the Wildcats pulled out all stops, even running a hook and lateral. But they followed up 330 yards rushing in a win over LSU with a mere 51 yards on the ground against Georgia.

Leading only 14-7 at halftime, the Bulldogs took the second-half kickoff and drove 75 yards in six plays to effectively finish off the Wildcats and gain a stranglehold on the SEC East race.

An apparent 59-yard touchdown pass to Bowers was negated by a holding penalty, but Bennett connected again with the freshman in the right corner of the end zone for a 27-yard score that did stand.

Bowers had another TD on a 20-yard play with about 11½ minutes remaining to make it 30-7. He finished with five receptions for 101 yards.

After a scoreless opening quarter, Georgia scored on back-to-back possessions. James Cook took a short pass 19 yards to the end zone, and Zamir White followed with a 24-yard scoring burst right up the middle.

Late in the first half, Kentucky finally got something going.

Catching a break when a video review overturned a fumble call, the Wildcats covered 75 yards in 13 plays, converting three times on third down. Levis capped it off with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Justin Rigg.

More Top 25

No. 12 Oklahoma State 32, (at) No. 25 Texas 24: Tanner Brown’s fourth field goal gave No. 12 Oklahoma State its first lead and Spencer Sanders’ scrambling 10-yard touchdown run with 2:18 to play capped a victory over Texas to keep the Cowboys undefeated.

Texas built leads of 17-3 and 24-13 behind three touchdowns from Bijan Robinson before Oklahoma State’s defense and punishing run game behind Jaylen Warren took over for the Cowboys (6-0, 3-0 Big 12).

Texas (4-3, 2-2) surrendered a big lead in a tough loss for the second straight week. The Longhorns led Oklahoma 28-7 before losing 55-48 last week.

Brown’s kicking and Jason Taylor II’s 85-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter kept the Cowboys’ in it while Sanders and the offense were struggling early.

The Cowboys allowed Texas just 317 total yards. Warren finished with 193 yards rushing on 33 carries, pounding out 154 yards in the second half rally.

Sanders pulled Oklahoma State to 24-22 with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Brennan Presley. Brown’s 29-yard field goal put the Cowboys ahead.

Texas still had time to possibly retake the lead, but the Cowboys defense stuffed the Longhorns on fourth down at the Texas 42. Sanders scored two plays later and Oklahoma State then sealed the victory with Tanner McAlister’s interception with 1:57 to play.

Robinson led Texas with 135 yards on 21 carries.

Auburn 38, (at) No. 17 Arkansas 23: Bo Nix threw for 292 yards and accounted for three touchdowns, Auburn’s defense contributed a touchdown and a key fourth down stop in the third quarter and the Tigers beat Arkansas.

Auburn (5-2, 2-1 SEC) won its sixth straight in the series and handed Arkansas (4-3, 1-3) its third straight loss.

The Tigers took a third-quarter lead when Derick Hall sacked and stripped Arkansas’ KJ Jefferson in the end zone and Marcus Harris pounced on it for the touchdown. On the next series, Harris stuffed Jefferson on an attempted fourth-down conversion at the Auburn 29. One play later, Nix found Demetris Robertson for a 71-yard score.

Auburn flipped a three-point deficit into an 11-point lead in just over three minutes.

Jefferson went 21 of 35 for 228 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 66 yards on 18 carries, but was sacked three times. Both scoring passes went to Treylon Burks, who finished with nine catches for 109 yards. Nix completed passes to 10 receivers, going 21 for 26 with an interception.

(At) Baylor 38, No. 19 BYU 24: Abram Smith ran for 188 yards with three touchdowns, Baylor linebacker and part-time fullback Dillon Doyle scored on both of his offensive touches and the Bears beat future Big 12 foe BYU.

Baylor (6-1) led by only three points midway through the third quarter before Doyle caught a 2-yard TD pass from Gerry Bohanon. Smith ran for a 7-yard score about 3½ minutes later to make it 31-14, after TJ Franklin’s sack that forced a fumble by Cougars quarterback Jaren Hall.

BYU (5-2) last month accepted an invitation to join the Big 12 starting in the 2023 season. The Cougars have lost back-to-back games after a 5-0 start that included three wins over Pac-12 teams and peaking at No. 10 in the AP Top 25.

(At) LSU 49, No. 20 Florida 42: Tyrion Davis-Price ran for an LSU-record 287 yards and had three touchdowns and the Tigers’ banged-up defense came up with four interceptions against Florida.

The stirring performance produced thunderous roars from a Death Valley crowd that came in with low expectations after unranked LSU (4-3, 2-2 SEC) dropped its previous two games against Auburn and Kentucky, fueling speculation coach Ed Orgeron’s hold on his job was tenuous at best.

After Damone Clark’s interception of Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson’s pass, Davis-Price literally and fittingly ran out the final 1:59 on Florida (4-3, 2-3). Price ran for two more first downs and broke the previous LSU single-game rushing record of 285 yards by Derrius Guice.

Max Johnson passed for 133 yards and three touchdowns — all to Jaray Jenkins. The last one came on fourth-and-goal with 3:30 left.