On Sept. 21, the No. 10 Florida Gators beat the Tennessee Volunteers 34-3. Now, coming off a bye week, Tennessee (1-3, 0-1 SEC) will face the undefeated No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs (4-0, 1-0 SEC) on Oct. 5 in Neyland.
Coming off a bye week themselves, the Bulldogs narrowly defeated No. 9 Notre Dame 23-17 two weeks ago. Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm was efficient against Notre Dame, completing nearly 77% of his passes for 187 yards, a touchdown and no picks. The Tennessee secondary could struggle against Fromm after allowing backup Florida quarterback Kyle Trask to throw for 293 yards.
The Bulldogs also had a solid game on the ground as D’Andre Swift and Brian Herrien combined for 140 yards rushing.
The Vols’ quarterback play against Florida was far from efficient. The position was unstable and alternated between Jarett Guarantano and Brian Maurer. Guarantano completed 10 of his 17 passes for 107 yards and threw two interceptions. Maurer went 4-for-11 for 44 yards and threw one interception.
If either quarterback performs as poorly as they did against the Gators, it will not matter who starts against the Bulldogs. (Update: Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt announced that true freshman Brian Maurer will start against Georgia)
Georgia gave up 275 yards through the air to Notre Dame, so Tennessee’s passing game could heat up if the Vol offensive line can keep the pocket clean against a Georgia defense that got no sacks against the Fighting Irish.
Even if a Tennessee quarterback can pull off a lights-out game, the Vols will need to force turnovers in bunches and capitalize on takeaways to have a chance against their powerhouse opponent this week.
Tennessee got three turnovers against Florida. However, the Vols failed to come away with points following any of them. Georgia did not cough up the ball much against Notre Dame as the Bulldogs gave away only a single fumble.
Tennessee has struggled so far this season, and this will likely be their toughest matchup yet. They will be playing at home, but the Vols have little else going for them heading into Saturday’s game.
It is Georgia’s game to lose, as the Bulldogs are favored by 23 points. However, anything can happen once the two teams take the field, as Tennessee saw firsthand in their home opener against Georgia State.
Christian Knox, sports editor – Georgia 33, Tennessee 14
Tennessee will make a couple of big plays by finding holes in the Georgia secondary. However, the Bulldogs will be able to execute well on offense and will score on most of their drives. Tennessee’s young players will show improvement coming off the bye week, but it will not be nearly enough to overcome this challenge.
Game Time and Coverage
Saturday’s kickoff in Knoxville is set for 7 p.m. EDT. The game will air on ESPN. TNJN will have more coverage on Tennessee vs. Georgia following the game.
Edited by Ainsley Kelso and Grace Goodacre
Featured photo by Ben Gleason