After a dramatic, enormous victory over LSU last week, the Bulldogs hit the road for Knoxville to take on the Tennessee Volunteers. Let’s break it down.
Opponent: Tennessee Volunteers (3-2, 0-1 in SEC)
Time/TV: 3:30 PM ET, CBS
Georgia Offense vs. Tennessee Defense
The big story of the week leading up to the game on this side of the ball is the status of running back Todd Gurley. We reported earlier in the week that Gurley had missed practice and was questionable for the game, and that is still where we find ourselves as of Friday afternoon. Fortunately, Georgia is blessed with Keith Marshall, a 5-star stud who would be the best back on 90% of the teams in America, and that should soften the blow. Tennessee’s run defense is in the bottom half of the pack nationally, having allowed over 163 yards per game, and that spells trouble for the team in orange.
Through the air, Aaron Murray is Aaron Murray. Tennessee’s defense has allowed more than 250 yards per game in the air, and against Murray, that would be an unequivocal win for them. It would be a mild shock if Murray didn’t go north of 300 yards in this game (especially without Gurley), and he’ll be the best player on the field.
Georgia Defense vs. Tennessee Offense
This side of the ball presents a significantly larger challenge for Georgia. Despite the two huge wins over LSU and South Carolina, the Georgia defense sits 93rd in the country in points allowed (32.5 per game), and they are even worse than Tennessee through the air.
Tennessee will be quarterbacked by Justin Worley in this game, and that’s a win for Georgia. The Vols don’t have a game-breaker in the passing game at all, and since that is the weakness of the defense, it’s not a bad match-up at all.
On the ground, Rajion Neal is no joke. The senior RB from Fayetteville, Georgia is averaging almost 6 yards per carry for the season, and has 468 yards in 5 games. He’s their featured back, without question, and I’d expect a near 100-yard output against a sometimes porous UGA unit. Neal will be flanked by Marlin Lane, who has been equally awesome in fewer carries, with a YPC north of 6.0 and 4 touchdowns on only 45 touches.
Plain and simple, this is a case where the Bulldogs will be fighting off the inevitable letdown of a huge victory over LSU. Georgia is better than Tennessee in virtually every aspect and, short of the venue, there is no decisive advantage to point to for the Vols. With that, Georgia is a significant favorite, even on the road, and I’d expect them to have a “take care of business” victory in this spot.
Stay tuned for post-game coverage, and a live game thread that will open on Saturday morning. Check it out!