2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 6 - Georgia at Tennessee
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Oct. 8 Georgia 20 … at Tennessee 12
CFN Analysis: The schedule might have a lot to do with it, but the Dawgs are playing hard and playing well over the four game winning streak. All of a sudden, at 3-1, they're in a position to take the SEC East if they can get through the Vanderbilt defense and the Florida showdown. The offense might not have hummed against the Vols, but the defense dialed it up a few notches to get in the backfield on a regular basis coming up with big play after big play against the run, while Isaiah Crowell got past some bumps to crank out a hard 51 yards and two scores to drive the offense late. Michael Gilyard came up with an eye-opening game with 12 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble, but it was a good overall game by the entire defense. There weren't any turnovers to give the Vols a break, and there can't be against a Vandy team that can't get points without takeaways.
The Vol offensive line is having a nightmare of a time. Georgia was able to get to the quarterbacks without a problem, and Tauren Poole and the backs didn't have any room to move. Poole finished with seven yards on seven carries, and Tyler Bray and Matt Simms were hit time and again. Simms did what he could when Bray hurt his hand, but the offense needs No. 8 to have any chance going forward. Simms doesn't push the ball down the field like Bray does, and with no running game, it's bombs away or bust for the Tennessee attack. The defense did a good job, but it'll have to find a way to come up with several key takeaways for the Vols to have any hope against LSU or Alabama over the next two weeks.
(AP) KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Isaiah Crowell ran for two touchdowns as Georgia beat Tennessee 20-12 on Saturday night to give coach Mark Richt his 100th career victory.
The win keeps the Bulldogs (4-2, 3-1) in a two-way tie with South Carolina for first in the Southeastern Conference East Division.
The teams played to a draw in the first half. Each had a pair of field goals, and Tennessee had just 30 more yards of offense and held the ball just 18 seconds longer than the Bulldogs.
The Vols (3-2, 0-2) started the second half with the ball but came out cold and never seemed to recover, while Georgia took advantage. James Stone snapped the ball over Tyler Bray's head for a 15-yard loss, and Matt Darr's 31-yard punt gave Georgia a short field with the ball at the Vols 38.
Tennessee appeared to have the Bulldogs stopped at the 9-yard line when Aaron Murray missed Orson Charles on a pass near the end zone, but the Vols' Daryl Vereen was called for pass interference, giving Georgia a fresh set of downs at the 2-yard line.
Crowell ran the ball three straight times and punched the ball in the end zone on a 1-yard run that gave the Bulldogs a 13-6 lead with 8:19 left in the third quarter.
The Vols appeared to have an answer on the next drive with a 66-yard touchdown on a pass from Bray to Marlin Lane on third down, a play that saw Lane roll over the back of Michael Gilliard. A review of the play showed Lane's knee touched the ground 3 yards shy of the first-down line.
Georgia started the subsequent drive on its own 7-yard line, but it didn't matter. Murray launched a pass to Malcolm Mitchell, and Mitchell was 71 yards downfield by the time Marsalis Teague caught up to him. Two plays later, Crowell ran 17 yards for a touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 20-6 lead with 4:51 to go in the third quarter.
Georgia relied on a balance of running and passing to keep Tennessee at bay. Murray finished 15-for-25 for 227 yards, Mitchell -- who injured his left hamstring in the second half -- had 126 yards on three catches and Crowell led five runners with 58 yards on 19 carries.
Meanwhile, the Vols continued to be one-dimensional. Bray was 18 of 33 for 251 yards and no interceptions but neglected to get a passing touchdown for the first time since taking over the offense on Oct. 30, 2010, in a loss at South Carolina.
The running game has been an emphasis during practice since Tennessee lost 9 yards on the ground in a 33-23 loss at Florida on Sept. 17. The Vols looked even more miserable against the SEC's second-best defense after losing starting tailback Tauren Poole to a hamstring and finished with minus-20 yards rushing.
Bray left the game late in the fourth quarter after his right hand hit a defender's helmet on a passing play. Trainers wrapped his hand as Matt Simms took over and scored on a 1-yard run with 2:45 left in the game. But it was too little, too late.
The Vols, who next host No. 1 LSU, also missed a scoring opportunity when a 51-yard field goal attempt by Michael Palardy narrowly sailed wide right. Palardy connected on field goals of 28 and 43 yards later in the half.
Blair Walsh kicked field goals of 35 and 23 yards in the first half for Georgia.
Georgia (3-2) at Tennessee (3-1) Oct. 8, 7:00, ESPN2/ESPN3
Here's The Deal … It wasn't all that long ago when this was a matchup of two superpowers, and it still might be a battle for the SEC East. The division is still there for the taking.
Tennessee might have lost to Florida, but the Gators are in big trouble with starting quarterback John Brantley out with a knee injury. Georgia might have lost to South Carolina, but the Gamecocks are a hot mess after a weird loss to Auburn that threw its quarterback situation into a tailspin. The East is there for the taking, but Georgia has the schedule to do it. Tennessee doesn't.
This is a good, strong Vol team with enough talent to go to a decent bowl game while challenging anyone in the SEC on a given day, but after this week comes LSU, and then a trip to Alabama, and then a home date against South Carolina with a trip to Arkansas a few weeks later. It's not a stretch to think Tennessee might be one of the 20 best teams in the nation and be 4-6 – it'll beat Middle Tennessee – before closing out against Vandy and Kentucky. This is the most winnable SEC game on the slate until mid-November, and Tennessee has to take advantage.
Georgia has turned the ship around after a lousy start, but the wins came against Coastal Carolina, Ole Miss, and a mediocre Mississippi State. There isn't a home game again until November, but if the Dawgs can win this week, they should have a good shot at Vandy and against Florida to be in a great position to win the East by taking care of business at home against Auburn and Kentucky. First, they have to win in Knoxville for the first time since 2005.
This series has been AWFUL lately. The last five games have been blowouts and six of the last seven have been decided by double digits after years of classic, SEC-title like battles. These two programs might not be at the level they were at a decade ago, but they're going to play a game that matters. That's a good step forward.
Why Georgia Might Win: The secondary has been terrific. The stats look great because Coastal Carolina, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State can't throw, but the Georgia defense has done a strong job of forcing mistakes with at least one pick in each of the first five games and with two interceptions in each of the three SEC games. Since giving up three touchdown passes to Boise State's Kellen Moore, the Dawgs have allowed just two scores through the air and haven't given up more than 157 yards. South Carolina ran wild on the Dawg defense, but Georgia held firm since against the run.
The Georgia offense struggled against Mississippi State, but it was effective when it had to be. Overall, the running game has found its niche with freshman Isaiah Crowell on a tear with 100 yard days in all three SEC contests, and is should be 4-for-4 against a Tennessee defense that's been decent against the run, but not a brick wall. The line isn't getting into the backfield enough and it isn't generating enough of a push for the pass rush.
Why Tennessee Might Win: Bombs away. Georgia's secondary is doing a terrific job, and the pass rush might be decent, but it's about to get rained on by a red-hot Tyler Bray and a passing game that didn't skip a beat against Buffalo after losing star receiver Justin Hunter. Bray's first significant game action came in last year's blowout loss to the Dawgs, and he wasn't bad completing 8-of-12 passes for 81 yards in garbage time, but he grew into the job and has began the season on a roll with a 405-yard, four touchdown day against Cincinnati and with 342 yards and four scores against Buffalo. Georgia will come up with a pick or two, but Bray will keep pressing and will keep pushing the ball down the field all game long.
If the struggling Tennessee pass rush was ever going to start rolling, this would be the game against a Georgia offensive line that gets Aaron Murray hit way too often. It's part of the deal for an offense that likes to throw like the Dawgs do, but there are too many pressures and too many sacks for a line with enough talent to be among the best in the SEC. The 13 sacks allowed so far are way too many, and while the Tennessee line has done a decent job of keeping Bray upright …
What To Watch Out For: The Georgia pass rush has been red hot. Cornelius Washington has been outstanding from his outside linebacker position making 3.5 sacks over the last two games as one of the main reasons the Dawg front line has been so effective. However, the burgeoning junior star has been suspended after getting arrested for a DUI. That means more work for Jarvis Jones, the much-heralded USC transfer who has been solid so far against the run with 28 tackles so far, and better lately getting into the backfield with two assisted sacks against Ole Miss and two on his own against Mississippi State. Georgia will keep dialing up the pressure with its linebackers, and Bray has to connect on the short to midrange throws to take advantage.
Tennessee got what it needed out of Da'Rick Rogers last week. With Hunter out, the Vols needed a new No. 1 target, and the sophomore stepped up with seven catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns in the blowout over Buffalo. Fast and with NFL upside, he'll be the focus of the passing attack the rest of the way. With three 100-yard games in the first four, he's quickly becoming one of the SEC's newest stars.
What Will Happen: Tennessee will throw well with Bray cranking out over 300 yards. Georgia will throw well, and it'll run strong, too, to balance out the attack in a fun, see-saw battle. Georgia will continue to make a bit of a statement in the SEC East, but Tennessee will look strong in the tough, late loss. Finally, this series will have a good game again.
CFN Prediction: Georgia 27 … Tennessee 23
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Georgia -1 O/U: 57
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