Tennessee heads to Athens riding the nation’s longest winning streak, and as the Volunteers set their sights on a championship caliber season, they’ll try and snap a three game losing skid to Georgia in a mega showdown Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. “Between the Hedges.”
On the heels of a 31-27 season-opening win over South Carolina in Columbia, there was no letdown or look-ahead, as the Volunteers posted a 35-12 victory over Missouri at Neyland Stadium. Eric Gray ran for 105 yards on 16 carries and Ty Chandler picked up 90 on 19 carries. Both scored touchdowns, while quarterback Jarrett Guarantano tallied three total scores – two on the ground and one through the air. Tennessee also welcomed in Georgia transfer Cade Mays on the offensive line.
Where Tennessee has come, from a 1-4 and 2-5 open to last season, to a six-game winning streak to end last year into the fast start in 2020, the Volunteers have made a big leap back into the elite of the Southeastern Conference. The Volunteers and Florida are amongst the top contenders trying to unseat Georgia’s three-year reign atop the SEC East.
Over that stretch, the Bulldogs have posted a trio of impressive victories over the Volunteers, rolling 41-0 at Neyland in 2017, coming out on top 38-12 in Athens in 2018, and prevailing 43-14 last season in Knoxville.
That win over Tennessee gave Georgia the all-time lead in the series 24-23-2, and wrapped up an 8-2 decade of the 2010s against the Volunteers.
The pressure is on and this one will have play a big role in one who wins the East this season.
Georgia is coming off a tremendous performance against Auburn in a top ten showdown. The Bulldogs built a 24-0 first half lead, commanding the game on offense, defense and special teams. In the 37-10 season-opening win over Arkansas, the Bulldogs offense sputtered in the first half. That unit took off in the first 30 minutes against the Tigers.
Kearis Jackson was the big play-maker, hauling in career best totals of nine catches for 147 yards. George Pickens caught his second touchdown of the season, and Stetson Bennett hit 17 of 28 passes for 240 yards, the score and NO picks.
Georgia’s ground game churned out 202 yards on 45 carries, with Zamir showing the way, chalking up 88 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. The Bulldogs offensive line, tight ends and a specialty package on the goalline deserves a great deal of credit for the Bulldogs success.
Now, in the conference only slate, there is no chance for a breather, and that goes double this week.
This is Tennessee’s best team since 2016 – which was the last time the Volunteers beat the Bulldogs, on the Hail Mary play – when Alvin Kamara, Derrick Barnett and Josh Dobbs starred for the Orange and White.
So many times since the SEC split into divisions in 1992, this matchup has played in big hand in the chase for championships, ranking and big bowl berths. The Volunteers are back under Jeremy Pruitt – a former Bulldogs defensive coordinator, and Georgia is riding high under Kirby Smart’s watch, aiming for a third straight trip to the SEC Championship Game.