Updated with more information at 1:45 a.m. on Oct. 20, 2019.
ATHENS, Ga. — The Georgia Bulldogs went from losing on a beautiful afternoon to winning on a hideous night.
Bouncing back from its upset loss to South Carolina in double overtime, 10th-ranked Georgia survived the rain, wind, cold and Kentucky Wildcats in a 21-0 victory Saturday evening inside a soaked Sanford Stadium. There was not the desired improvement from a Bulldogs offense that has struggled at times this season to stretch the field and produce more explosive plays.
The elements simply wouldn't allow it.
"We had an outlook on Tuesday that said that tonight could get ugly," Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. "We put some more runs in, but we continued to pass the ball throughout the week, too. We wanted to go to work on the passing game, and we didn't know how bad it was going to be as the week went on. You get more accurate forecasts, and it grew and grew and grew.
"Tonight, it got worse as the ball stayed out there and the players got wet."
Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm and Kentucky counterpart Lynn Bowden combined for just 52 passing yards. At one point early in the second quarter, Fromm was 6-of-7 for 5 yards.
"Tonight was tough," Fromm said. "If you've never done it, go out and try it. It's tough. We knew it wasn't going to be a beauty contest."
Unless that beauty contest featured the offensive linemen who are often referred to as "big uglies." Unable to do anything aerially, the Bulldogs (6-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) took to the ground and pounded out 235 yards on 43 carries, averaging 5.5 yards per rush.
Bulldogs junior running back D'Andre Swift had 179 yards on 21 carries with touchdown runs of 39 yards in the third quarter and 3 yards in the fourth.
"There were many times tonight that he put the team on his back and ran with it," Fromm said. "This could have either been the funnest game we've ever had before or the most miserable time. A lot of guys chose to have the most fun."
Saturday night's biggest smiles were reserved for Georgia's offensive linemen.
"They told us all week that it was going to rain and be cold, but we didn't want to let the elements bother us," junior left tackle Andrew Thomas said. "We embraced this as an offensive line, because we knew it was going to be hard to pass the ball and that we had to run it down their throat. D'Andre made some great runs tonight."
Said redshirt junior left guard Ben Cleveland: "This was like having fun in the backyard. It was like going out and playing a high school game. People didn't care in high school whether it was cold, wet, windy or rainy, so it was fun to go out there and play some dirty football."
Swift broke a scoreless tie with his 39-yard touchdown scamper at the 6:20 mark of the third quarter. Bulldogs safety Richard LeCounte III recovered a fumble by Bowden on the ensuing possession at the 31-yard line of the Wildcats (3-4, 1-4), and the Bulldogs quickly capitalized with Brian Herrien's 8-yard touchdown run that made it 14-0.
That would be the game's lone turnover.
"That's what we want to do," LeCounte said. "We want to keep chopping and keep going. We're not letting any outside noise disturb our play."
The Bulldogs, who played their first scoreless first half since a 1991 loss at Alabama, will have this week off before the annual showdown against Florida in Jacksonville on Nov. 2. The No. 9 Gators (7-1, 4-1) beat South Carolina 38-27 on Saturday.
Georgia beat Kentucky (3-4, 1-4) for the 10th straight time and reached bowl eligibility to extend the league's longest active postseason streak at 23 years.
The longest pass play by either team Saturday was a 22-yard connection from Fromm to George Pickens out to Georgia's 40-yard line early in the second quarter. The next three plays netted 9 yards, and Fromm was stuffed for no gain on fourth down.
Swift had nine carries for 81 yards in the first half, while Fromm was 8-of-11 passing for only 28 yards. The Bulldogs did not run a play in Kentucky territory until Swift's 39-yard run, which followed a 15-yard punt from Max Duffy.
"It was a wet ball," Swift said. "We couldn't really throw the ball, and they were loading the box. Their outside linebackers were triggering real fast. It was just hard to get a feel for the game.
"I haven't played in anything like this since I was younger playing in the street. It was a hard game."
GEORGIA 21, KENTUCKY 0
Staff writer David Paschall breaks down the game in bits and pieces.
Georgia junior running back D'Andre Swift rushed 21 times for 179 yards and two touchdowns, and his 39-yard score at the 6:20 mark of the third quarter broke a scoreless tie and inspired Bulldogs fans to long-awaited cheering.
The Bulldogs had not played a scoreless first half since 1991, when Ray Goff's Bulldogs lost 10-0 at Alabama. Gene Stallings was in his second year as coach of the Crimson Tide, and the quarterbacks were Eric Zeier and Danny Woodson.
The Wildcats had a nice drive to Georgia's 27-yard line to open the second half, but a holding penalty forced a punt. Their ensuing series was a three-and-out that was followed by a 15-yard Max Duffy punt the play before Swift's score.
Swift provided plenty of memorable moves on an otherwise dreary night, with his 39-yard touchdown the result of some impressive blocking, most notably some clearing out by Cade Mays, and a nice spin move by Swift inside the 20.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Bulldogs rebounded from their loss to South Carolina but were far from impressive offensively in doing so. Sure, the conditions stunk, but Georgia has to be a lot more dynamic to prevail against Florida in two weeks.