Kentucky running back Raymond Sanders (4) is tackled by Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones during the third quarter Saturday in Athens. Georgia beat Kentucky, 19-10, to clinch a spot in the SEC Championship game.
ATHENS -- Todd Grantham told his Georgia defense there would be games like this.
Georgia's top tailback, Isaiah Crowell, lasted only two carries Saturday against Kentucky before leaving with an ankle injury.
Crowell's top backup, Carlton Thomas, did not play after breaking a team rule. Combine that with a bunch of turnovers, and the Bulldogs managed only one touchdown.
But with a spot in the Southeastern Conference Championship game on the line, Grantham's defense delivered yet again.
"We always talk about situations like that, being able to put it on us," Grantham said after No. 13 Georgia's 19-10 win against Kentucky on Saturday.
"Obviously we know there are good defenses in the league, and we want to rank up there with them."
Georgia clinched the SEC Eastern Division title and a spot in the Dec. 3 conference championship game in the Georgia Dome.
Grantham, Georgia's second-year defensive coordinator, has been the architect of one of the most dominant defenses in Mark Richt's 11 years as head coach.
Georgia ranks No. 2 in the nation against the run, behind only Alabama. It is No. 4 in total defense and No. 11 in scoring defense after holding Kentucky to 23 yards rushing on 21 carries and 165 total yards.
"Our defense stoned them again," Richt said. "Twenty-three yards net, that's pretty fantastic. They didn't throw that well either. Our defense played lights out, I thought.
"When you stop the run the way we do, it does make life a whole lot easier."
The defense has helped Georgia (9-2) win nine straight games after opening the season with losses to Boise State and South Carolina.
"This is what we like," said cornerback Branden Smith, who had an interception. "We like taking it. We like it with the pressure on us."
Perhaps only a coach could appreciate the win against Kentucky. Georgia did not budge from its spot at No. 13 in The Associated Press Top 25 on Sunday even after four teams lost that were ahead of the Bulldogs last week.
Kentucky coach Joker Phillips was impressed by Georgia's defense.
"It's hard to play against a defense that is as good as Georgia," Phillips said. "This is one of the best defenses in the conference. We've seen Georgia hold some good teams to just a few points. It's tough to play against a team with great personnel, great schemes and athletic players."
Georgia will play at No. 25 Georgia Tech on Saturday in its final regular-season game before advancing to the Dec. 3 SEC Championship game at the Georgia Dome.
Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones continued to play a lead role on a defense which has no shortage of big-play candidates.
Jarvis Jones recorded 2 -1/2 sacks to give him 12 -1/2 for the season. He is tied for second in the nation and is only 1 -1/2 behind David Pollack's school-record 14 in 2002. He also had seven tackles and forced a fumble.
"After the beginning of the season we were a little down, but you just have to keep fighting and that's what we did," Jones said. "Now we're headed back to Atlanta and it's a really good feeling."
Linebacker Alec Ogletree led Georgia with eight tackles, including two for losses, and a sack. Brandon Boykin also had an interception.
There's no time to savor the SEC Eastern Division title. Georgia Tech's spread-option offense will be a different test for Grantham's defense and an intriguing matchup of strengths.
Georgia Tech will bring the nation's No. 2 rushing offense against Georgia's rush defense in the annual contest for state bragging rights.
"We know we've got to change gears here real fast as Georgia Tech is such a huge game for us," Richt said. "We know exactly what's at stake for us next week. It's going to be very difficult to get ready without an open date or any extra time."
Asked if Crowell or Thomas will have a chance to play this week, Richt said "I don't know. That's a good question."
UGA BEGINS PREPARATIONS FOR GEORGIA TECH: With the SEC Eastern Division title clinched, the Bulldogs look to close the regular season with 10 straight wins as they travel to take on Georgia Tech.
Kickoff is scheduled for noon, and the game will be televised on ESPN.
"It's a grind either way --whether you are wining or losing," Richt said about the winning streak. "To find a way to win nine is big. I say that the ninth win was significant mainly because it gave us a title. It's not the SEC title, but it's the Eastern Division title, which is very coveted. It takes mental toughness either way. Starting 0-2 definitely tested us to our limits, and I think everybody came through pretty good."
Georgia holds the edge against Georgia Tech in the all-time series with a record of 61-37-5, which was boosted by the Bulldogs winning nine of the last 10 contests. Quarterback Tevin Washington's 1,481 passing yards and 849 rushing yards lead the Yellow Jackets this season.
In Tech's 38-31 victory against Duke on Saturday, Washington posted 185 yards through the air and 136 rushing yards, including a touchdown.
"It's a whole different world," Richt said of Tech's unique offense. "It's a different type of running game. It's something that you may be outstanding against some of the more common things we see on a week-to-week basis, and then just get thrashed by this system we are about to go against. I just don't know if you can equate what's happened to this point stopping the run and what's going to happen this weekend. It's just too different."
MUNSON FAMILY ANNOUNCES FUNERAL PLANS: A memorial service for longtime University of Georgia football radio announcer Larry Munson will be held at a date yet to be determined; however, it will be after the Dec. 3 SEC title game, the family announced Monday.
Munson died late Sunday at the age of 89 from complications of pneumonia.
In lieu of flowers, the Munson family requests that donations be made to the Noah Harris Cheerleading Scholarship. The endowed scholarship is awarded annually to a student-athlete on the cheerleading team who demonstrates outstanding character, leadership, and dedication to the athletic program and the community. The fund was established in 2006 in memory of 1st Lieutenant Noah Harris, who was a cheerleader for UGA.
Donation checks should be made payable to the UGA Foundation with the designation "Noah Harris Cheerleading Scholarship in memory of Larry Munson."
They may be sent to the Georgia Bulldog Club, PO Box 1472, Athens, GA 30603.