Georgia grinds its way to East crown

There was nothing conventional about Georgia's path to the Eastern Division championship.

The Bulldogs lost their first two games of the season, and the talk around the program wasn't about making it to Atlanta, but rather, whether veteran coach Mark Richt was going to make it to next season.

Well, on Saturday, Georgia won its ninth straight game, trailing at one point in the second half, but clawing back on the strength of its defense to win 19-10 over Kentucky at Sanford Stadium to clinch its first trip to the SEC championship game since 2005.

The Bulldogs (9-2, 7-1) did it without freshman running back Isaiah Crowell, who injured his ankle on the first possession of the game and never returned. His status for the Georgia Tech game next week is questionable.

After being non-existent in the first half, the running game came to life in the second half behind former walk-on Brandon Harton, who finished with 101 yards on 23 carries.

Kentucky didn't lie down and play sacrificial lamb, but really played valiantly on defense. Georgia led 12-10 at the half, and Aaron Murray's 7-yard touchdown pass to Marlon Brown in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter was the play that finally gave the Bulldogs some breathing room.

Once again, Georgia's defense was terrific and held Kentucky to 165 total yards. The Wildcats didn't get a first down in the second half until there were about three minutes to play.

In seven of its last eight games, Georgia's first-team defense has given up 13 or fewer points.