When and where: September 29, 2018, Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA
The brutal SEC stretch continues for the Tennessee Volunteers when they go on the road on Saturday to take on No. 2-ranked Georgia. Fresh off a 47-21 blowout loss to the Florida Gators, the Volunteers would pull off the upset of the year if they’re able to topple the Bulldogs on their home field. The Bulldogs, who are coming off a 43-29 win over Missouri, look primed for another playoff run.
Renaissance project in session in Tennessee
The Volunteers looked like they were playing football with a wet bar of soap in their Week 4 loss to the Gators. Drubbing might be the better word as they turned the ball over six times and got outscored by 23 points in the first half.
The turnovers were crippling for a young football team that simply lacked discipline playing in the primetime spotlight against a tough SEC rival.
Volunteers head coach Jeremy Pruitt knew he had his work cut out for him when accepted the job in December of last year. The former Alabama defensive coordinator is in a much different spot than he was a year ago, when he was competing for a national championship side-by-side with Nick Saban. He’s no longer in the eye of the storm when he was the Tennessee media darling being pumped up with excitement of a potential turnaround.
Now he’s smack-dab in the middle of a rebuilding project, staring face-to-face at an approaching storm. The Volunteers have Auburn and Alabama on the schedule after Georgia. Sophomore quarterback Jarrett Guarantano went 7-of-18 for 164 passing yards and two interceptions against the Gators defense. He could be in for a world of trouble the next three weeks.
It might be Keller Chryst time.
Kirby Smart meets his successor
Former Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart knows a thing or two about a rough start as a head coach.
His first season at Georgia wasn’t spectacular by any stretch, finishing with an 8-5 record and an appearance in the Liberty Bowl. However, he managed to turn things around significantly in Year 2, as the Bulldogs finished 13-2 and contended for a National Championship against Alabama.
If not for Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s second-half heroics, Smart would have been well on his way to knocking off his mentor, Saban, and winning his first championship as a head coach. Perhaps the third season will be the charm as the Bulldogs once again look like serious playoff contenders early in the season.
Missouri showed grit in Week 3 in hanging with them in a fairly competitive game. Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm threw for 260 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, and running backs D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield combined for 161 yards on the ground en route to another win over an SEC opponent.
- Bulldogs are 5-1 ATS in last 6 games after an ATS loss
- Bulldogs are 7-2 ATS in last 9 games
- Bulldogs are 7-1 ATS in last 8 games played on grass
- Bulldogs are 6-1 ATS in last 7 games after a win
- Volunteers are 0-4 ATS in last 4 games within their conference
- Volunteers are 2-5 ATS in last 7 games on the road
- Volunteers are 1-5 ATS in last 6 games played in the month of September
- Volunteers are 1-6 ATS in last 7 games
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Another primetime SEC match-up surely means another loss for the Volunteers. Not even David vs Goliath is a fair comparison to what Pruitt will face when he stands across the sidelines from his Alabama predecessor.
Perhaps he’ll have the Volunteers trending in the same direction as the Bulldogs one of these days, but that day won’t be on Saturday, not with a rebuilding project going against one of the top-two teams in the country.
Georgia’s defense might be the only question mark after giving up 172 yards on the ground to Missouri’s running back committee. Aside from Guarantano’s Week 3 struggles, the Volunteers were able to run the football effectively. That still won’t be enough to help them keep pace with a potent Georgia offense. The Volunteers have also shown a tendency to become turnover-prone, which is costly against good football teams.
That six-turnover game against the Gators came only a week after they lost two fumbles to UTEP. If Georgia can get pressure up front on defense, they can force Guarantano into making enough mistakes to ultimately cost the Volunteers the football game.
Prediction: Georgia Bulldogs
Full-Game Total Pick
Georgia’s offense can be scary explosive, and Tennessee has a tendency of giving up plenty of points to talented football teams. There will be more than enough fireworks in this SEC match-up to cover the over, which has won out in the last four consecutive head-to-head meetings in Georgia. When these two teams get together, they run up the scoreboard.
Prediction: Over (53.5)