ATHENS — For Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, it was a most appropriate way to finish up between the hedges.
In the final home game of their stellar careers, Chubb and Michel combined for five touchdowns to lead a dominant running game and No. 7 Georgia bounced back impressively from its first loss of the season, wearing down Kentucky for a 42-13 victory Saturday.
“Going down the line, we can always look back at this moment, our last game at Sanford Stadium,” Chubb said.
Quite a Senior Day, indeed.
Chubb rushed for 151 and two touchdowns, including a 55-yard burst down the sideline to seal the victory early in the fourth quarter . Michel rambled for 87 yards and three scores of his own, most notably a 37-yard TD that sent the Bulldogs into the half with a 21-6 lead.
When it was done, they both climbed atop a platform in front of the student section to celebrate.
“That’s something I can never have back, so I had to enjoy the moment,” Chubb said. “Believe it or not, that’s my first time ever doing that. I kind of saved it for right now, for this moment.”
Chubb and Michel both passed up a chance to enter the NFL draft after their junior years.
They certainly made the most of their final college season.
“Just the guys that I can have an impact on, to leave a legacy behind, to come back and build a foundation here,” Michel said. “I felt like we had so much more to give to this program.”
Georgia (10-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference, No. 7 CFP) returned to form after getting stuffed on the ground in a 40-17 loss to Auburn, a dismal performance that knocked the Bulldogs out of the top spot they held for two weeks in the College Football Playoff standings.
“They put pressure on us all night, in all phases,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. “They played like a No. 1 team in the country.”
Georgia finished with 381 yards rushing against the Wildcats (7-4, 4-4), averaging 8.7 yards per carry. The previous week, the Bulldogs were held to 46 yards by Auburn, with both Chubb and Michel enduring their worst games of the season.
Jake Fromm threw an interception on Georgia’s first possession, leading to a field goal that gave Kentucky an early lead. Georgia went ahead for good on Chubb’s first TD, an 8-yard run .
Fromm hooked up with Javon Wims on a 27-yard pass for Georgia’s other score, but the Bulldogs didn’t have to worry much about the air game.
The freshman quarterback threw it just 14 times, completing nine for 123 yards. Mostly, all Fromm had to do was hand it to Chubb, Michel and freshman D’Andre Swift, who piled up 66 yards on just seven carries.
Benny Snell brought Kentucky to 21-13 on a 1-yard touchdown out of the wildcat to cap the opening possession of the second half. That was the last hurrah for the Wildcats, whose frustrating showing was epitomized by quarterback Stephen Johnson getting body-slammed to the ground by Georgia’s D’Andre Walker.
Kentucky did get a brilliant 45-yard catch from Blake Bone , who hauled the ball in over his left shoulder while tumbling to the turf, setting up one of two field goals by Austin MacGinnis.
MAKE ROOM, HERSCHEL
Chubb surpassed 1,000 yards rushing for the third time in his career, joining 1982 Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker as the only Georgia players to accomplish that feat.
With his 151-yard performance, Chubb pushed his season total to 1,045 yards. The only season in which he failed to reach quadruple figures was as a sophomore, when a devastating knee injury limited him to 747 yards in six games.
Chubb said it was an honor to even be mentioned in the same club with Walker, the greatest player in school history.
“That’s great company to have,” Chubb said.
Georgia: After a sluggish start, the Bulldogs remained in contention for a spot in the College Football Playoff. They can’t afford any more slipups, but will get a chance to boost their resume when they meet top-ranked Alabama or No. 6 Auburn in the Dec. 2 SEC championship game.
Kentucky: The Wildcats missed a chance for their first winning record in the SEC since 1977. The program has improved significantly under coach Mark Stoops but has yet to become a serious contender for a conference title, even with East rivals Florida and Tennessee both having awful seasons and in the midst of coaching changes.
Georgia: Also gets its state rival to finish off the regular season, making the short trip to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs will be looking to avenge a 28-27 loss to the Yellow Jackets in 2016.
Kentucky: Closes the regular season by hosting Louisville next Saturday. The Wildcats upset their state rival 41-38 last season .