This Saturday in Athens, the No. 25 Georgia Bulldogs will take on the No. 11 Tennessee Volunteers. Can the Dawgs give the Vols their first loss of the season?
Sure, the Georgia Bulldogs have a lot of things working against them. Last week at Ole Miss, the Dawgs struggled due to a seemingly nonexistent defense, trouble with the composure and performance of freshman quarterback Jacob Eason, and more missed field goal attempts. Additionally, Georgia’s star running back Nick Chubb sustained a minor left ankle injury and was still absent from practice as of Wednesday. Though the Georgia Bulldogs want and need him back as soon as possible, according to head coach Kirby Smart, Chubb is still day-to-day, needing some time to recover.
The Tennessee Volunteers are favored by 3.5, according to Vegasinsider.com. However, there are a few factors that could aid the Bulldogs in pulling off a win against this 4-0 team.
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Tennessee has yet to put together a full game.
So far this season, the Volunteers have struggled with consistency. Though they can boast a game-winning comeback last week over the Florida Gators after being down 21-0, this is a team that has previously struggled with getting off to good starts. They fell behind early against Appalachian State, Virginia Tech and Florida, but were ultimately able to get the job done in the end. When they played Ohio, the Vols endured a close game, barely distancing themselves from the Bobcats, but again came out with the win. In this matchup, their success will be largely dependent on their ability to put together a game from start to finish. Falling behind and having to fight their way back to a win on the road is a dangerous situation that Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs will take advantage of.
The Vols are headed to Athens.
This will be the first game that the Vols have played a game outside of the state of Tennessee. Three of their four wins took place at Neyland Stadium, with the other being at Bristol Motor Speedway against the Virginia Tech Hokies. The Georgia Bulldogs have had some close calls early this season as well against both Nicholls and Missouri, but the team is most recently coming off of its first loss against Ole Miss, and a brutal one at that. Their loss only gives them more motivation for a comeback in this game. For the Dawgs, defeating Tennessee at home is a huge opportunity to right their wrongs this season.
Coach Smart knows Tennessee.
The Volunteers are nothing new to Georgia Bulldogs first year head coach Kirby Smart. As former University of Alabama defensive coordinator, he’s had experience with this team for the last eight seasons, and one additional season as defensive assistant. According to Coach Smart, “We’ve got to show improvement at pretty much every position, especially after the last game. Our guys have got to be up for the challenge. Tennessee has got a lot of good players back.” Improving at just about every position will be the ultimate challenge for the Dawgs, but Coach Smart is staying optimistic. Playing a tough Ole Miss team on the road only challenged the team further. “The silver lining is you get another opportunity to play a good team this week. The opportunity that we have looking forward is what we’re fired up about,” said Smart.
The Georgia Bulldogs will aim to give the Tennessee Volunteers their first loss this Saturday, October 1, at Sanford Stadium in Athens. Catch the game at 3:30 PM ET on CBS.