There are few scenarios in this game that I think are highly unlikely. In fact, the only one I don’t see happening is Tennessee blowing out Georgia. Every other scenario, however, I can see happening. Anything from a close Tennessee victory to a blowout win for Georgia seems likely to me.
However, I think this game will be somewhere in between a close win and a blowout.
Georgia’s run game is the toughest rushing attack the Vols will face until they play Alabama next month. The Bulldogs defense is arguably the toughest the Vols have faced this season, and Tennessee’s offense has looked far from stellar the last two weeks.
The Vols are throwing everything they can at this game. The fans are checkering Neyland, the team is wearing their Smokey Gray uniforms, and even Peyton Manning will be there. But all that may not be enough to stop a top 10 Georgia squad.
Tennessee will give the Bulldogs their best shot on Saturday, but I think Georgia tacks on a late touchdown to put this one out of reach.
Pick: Georgia 35-24
MVP: Nick Chubb, RB
Georgia’s rushing attack will the deciding factor in this game, and Nick Chubb is looking for revenge against the team that ended his season in 2015. Granted, there wasn’t a dirty hit or anything that caused Chubb to be injured, but he will still be looking to have a big day against the Vols in this one. And given the Vols’ lack of success stopping the run, this could be a big day for him.
Georgia is too good at running the football, and UT doesn’t have the ability to stop them on the ground. Even when the Vols know a run is coming, I don’t think it matters. An inconsistent defensive line has to handle one of the SEC’s best offensive fronts, and I don’t see a way the Vols can stop Nick Chubb and Sony Michel enough to win this game. Tennessee will inevitably get down early like it often does, and the defense won’t be able to get off the field to stage a last ditch comeback. I think it ends up being a ten point game because the Vols find a way to get points late and make this game look close, but I’m not sure it will ever be in doubt.
Pick: Georgia 30-20
MVP: Nick Chubb, RB
Unless Daniel Bituli pays like he did against Georgia Tech in week one, UT will have a hard time stopping Chubb. The interior of UT’s defensive line hasn’t gotten a good push against the run in the past two weeks, and it’s going to be a rough game for them on Saturday. I expect Chubb to get the ball a lot since Georgia will have the lead for most of the game. If it’s close enough of a game where Georgia is running down the clock, Chubb will rack up some major yardage.
Georgia’s strengths align with Tennessee’s weaknesses.
Georgia will be starting true freshman Jake Fromm at quarterback, but Kirby Smart and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney will rely heavily on the running game. Behind Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, the Dawgs possess the fourth best running game in the SEC having accounted for 893 yards and nine touchdowns through four games. On the flip side, Tennessee’s run defense ranks dead last in the SEC, as the Vols are allowing 242.2 rushing yards per game.
As for Tennessee’s offense, they’ll be going up against one of the best front seven’s in all of college football. Georgia’s defense ranks fourth best in the SEC, allowing just 269.5 yards per game and 11.5 points per game. Outside of John Kelly, it’s hard to imagine Tennessee’s offense having a big day considering the unit has struggled for most of the season.
Pick: Georgia 27-13
MVP: Georgia’s running game
Nick Chubb suffered a gruesome injury the last time he stepped into Neyland Stadium. As the fourth leading rusher in the SEC (371 yards), you can bet Chubb is looking for revenge. Unfortunately, Tennessee’s rush defense has been less than pleasing to begin the season. The Vols need big games from Colton Jumper, Daniel Bituli and the defensive line, but as it stands today, expect the combination of Chubb, Michel and D’Andre Swift to have a big game on the ground.