Tennessee coach Butch Jones did not mince words last week after the Volunteers escaped with a narrow victory over Massachusetts, and his team will have plenty to improve on with No. 8 Georgia coming to Knoxville on Saturday. The Volunteers face the unbeaten Bulldogs after a 17-13 victory last week that Jones called “flat-out unacceptable” postgame, coming on the heels of losing their SEC opener at Florida on a last-second touchdown pass.
“There’s no excuse to come out here and play the way we did,” Tennessee offensive tackle Brett Kendrick told reporters after last week’s contest, in which the Volunteers did not score for the first 25 minutes or in the final 22 minutes. Georgia comes in looking like the clear-cut favorite in the SEC East after dismantling Mississippi State 31-3 as freshman quarterback Jake Fromm passed for 201 yards and two touchdowns. With injured starter Jacob Eason nearing a return, Georgia coach Kirby Smart told reporters Tuesday he wants the quarterback who gives his team the best chance to win. “Jacob Eason has to focus on getting healthy, getting 100 percent. Jake Fromm has to focus on getting better and improving.”
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Georgia -7
ABOUT GEORGIA (4-0, 1-0 SEC): Fromm, the SEC freshman of the week, completed 9-of-12 passes against Mississippi State and has fired seven touchdowns against only one interception. Georgia’s running game is averaging 223.3 yards per contest, with 371 yards and six touchdowns from Nick Chubb through four games. The Bulldogs are holding opponents to 11.5 points and 97.5 yards rushing per contest.
ABOUT TENNESSEE (3-1, 0-1): The Volunteers survived last week thanks in part to a pass rush that netted seven sacks, Tennessee’s highest total in a single game since 2008, and 101 yards rushing from John Kelly. Quarterback Quinten Dormady was replaced in the third quarter after passing for 187 yards, but replacement Jarrett Guarantano finished with minus-3 yards passing and four yards rushing. Tennessee is last in the SEC in rushing defense, giving up 242.3 yards per game.
1. Georgia S Dominick Sanders recorded his 13th career interception last week, tied for fifth-most in school history with a group of players including Smart (who played at Georgia from 1995-98).
2. The Volunteers are 101th in the nation in red-zone defense and 107th in red-zone offense.
3. Tennessee leads the all-time series 23-21-2 and has won the past two meetings, including Jauan Jennings’ final-play touchdown reception in last year’s 34-31 triumph in Athens.
PREDICTION: Georgia 31, Tennessee 17