Preview: Tennessee vs. No. 7 Georgia

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    Tennessee (3-1) vs. No. 7 Georgia (4-0)

    Saturday, Sept. 30th, 3:30 p.m. ET

    Neyland Stadium (102,455) • Knoxville, TN

    TV: CBS

    Series Record: Tennessee leads 23-21-2

     Setting the table

    Georgia is riding high off a 31-3 beatdown of Mississippi State last weekend, and they come into this match-up as a top 10 team. It’s the highest Georgia has been ranked when they’ve played Tennessee since they were the No. 6 team in the country when they traveled to Neyland Stadium in 2013. The Vols are coming off back-to-back rough weeks. A heartbreaking loss to Florida was followed up by an ugly performance against UMass last weekend. Tennessee desperately needs some positivity.

     Who has the edge

    When Tennessee throws…

    Georgia’s defense overall has been solid, but their passing defense has been somewhat average thus far. They haven’t been bad by any stretch of the imagination, but the Vols are allowing less passing yards per game than the Bulldogs through four weeks. Georgia has also only intercepted two passes despite teams having attempted 140 passes against them. Quinten Dormady hasn’t been pinpoint accurate to start this season, but with Tyler Byrd finally getting into the mix last week and Brandon Johnson emerging as a legitimate target, the Vols’ passing attack may finally be developing into something. Edge: Slightly to Tennessee 

    When Tennessee runs…

    John Kelly has been on a tear to start the season, but Georgia’s run defense will be the toughest test he’s’ faced all year. Throw in the fact that the Vols have yet to really establish a No. 2 option who can get more than five carries a game behind him, and the Bulldogs will have no problem keying in on him. Especially since Dormady is no threat to run the ball at the quarterback position. Edge: Georgia

    When Georgia throws…

    Freshman Jake Fromm has looked solid and poised leading the Bulldogs’ offense the last few weeks. But he’s not been asked to do much as a passer, and he’s only attempted 27 passes the last two weeks combined. This will be his first true road start in a hostile environment (Georgia fans flooded South Bend when the Bulldogs played Notre Dame), and the Vols’ passing defense got a boost from Shaq Wiggins last week. Georgia likes to run much more than pass, but Fromm has the ability to make some big plays too. Edge: Push

    When Georgia runs…

    Georgia has one of the most potent rushing attacks in the SEC, and the Vols have had issues stopping the run all season long. Tennessee has done a better job of defending the run since the season opener against Georgia Tech, but the Bulldogs have been able to run against everyone so far this season. Their three headed monster of Chubb, Michel, and Swift have been hard to stop this season, and the Vols should expect a heavy dose of them this Saturday. Edge: Significantly to Georgia

    On special teams…

    Evan Berry is still not expected to play in this game, but Georgia doesn’t have many kicks returned against them anyway. In four games, the Bulldogs have had just five kicks returned against them. In every other facet, the two teams are fairly even. The Vols have had better punt returns, but Georgia has had better field goal kicking. Both have had good punting. Edge: Push

     Best-case scenario for UT 

    The Vols end their decade-long drought of not beating a top 10 opponent and defeat Georgia for the third consecutive year. A win against No. 7 Georgia would do a lot for the team, fan base, and Butch Jones. Especially if it was another dramatic victory like the last two have been.

     Worst-case scenario for UT

    Tennessee not only loses, but they get crushed. Georgia is a touchdown favorite in this one, and a close loss would certainly sting. But if the Vols get blown out or lose because of coaching mistakes, the bye week heading into the South Carolina game will be very, very long.

     How we think it’ll play out

    Any scenario aside from a Tennessee blowout victory feel possible in this game. The Vols could win a close one, Georgia could win a close one, the Bulldogs could blow out the Vols, or the game could go into three overtimes. Almost anything feels possible in this game even with Georgia having the edge in a large part of the game. Tennessee is pulling out all the stops for this one, but it may not be enough to defeat the top 10 Bulldogs.

    Our picks:

    Nathanael: Georgia 35-24
    Will: Georgia 30-20
    Ben: Georgia 27-13