No. 7 Georgia, Tennessee gearing up for another SEC showdown
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Georgia and Tennessee are gearing up for the possibility their Saturday matchup could come down to the final minute.
It wouldn’t be any different than usual.
None of the last five Tennessee-Georgia games has been decided by more than seven points. That includes Tennessee’s 34-31 victory in Athens last year that featured a 43-yard game-winning Hail Mary pass as time expired.
”If you look at kind of the past history of this game, they usually come down to the final possession,” Tennessee coach Butch Jones said.
Georgia (4-0, 1-0 SEC) has insisted that it isn’t using the heartbreaking finish of last year’s game as extra incentive this week.
The seventh-ranked Bulldogs have lost two straight to Tennessee (3-1, 0-1) after beating the Volunteers five consecutive times from 2010-14. Georgia enters this year’s matchup as one of the nation’s hottest teams, while Tennessee lost to Florida and eked out a 17-13 victory over winless Massachusetts in its last two games.
”They have a new team, we have a new team,” Georgia defensive back Aaron Davis said. ”Last year’s not a motivation for us.”
Last year’s game was the latest in a series of down-to-the-wire matchups.
Georgia won 51-44 in 2012 by forcing three turnovers in the last six minutes and won 34-31 in overtime in 2013 after Tennessee’s Alton ”Pig” Howard fumbled in overtime as he was about to cross the goal line, turning a potential touchdown into a touchback. Georgia needed to recover a late onside kick to secure a 35-32 triumph in 2014 .
Tennessee rallied from a 21-point deficit to beat the Bulldogs 38-31 in 2015 , as Georgia’s Reggie Davis dropped a potential game-tying touchdown pass with less than four minutes left.
”They’ve kind of been neck-and-neck games where either team could come out with a win,” Tennessee offensive tackle Brett Kendrick said. ”I expect another close game coming up.”
Here are some things to know about Saturday’s Georgia-Tennessee game.
FROMM ON THE ROAD: This will mark the second career road start for Georgia freshman quarterback Jake Fromm. Although Fromm won at Notre Dame in his first career start , a large Georgia contingent made the trip to South Bend and turned that into more of a neutral-site atmosphere. Fromm figures to get a different reception Saturday. ”There’s no way to simulate the atmosphere that you get in Neyland Stadium, when you talk about being a road opponent,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. ”It won’t even compare to what we got at Notre Dame because we had so many (of our own) fans at Notre Dame.”
EASON APPEARANCE?: Jacob Eason opened the year as Georgia’s starting quarterback but hasn’t played since spraining his left knee in the season opener. Smart said this week that Eason is “much closer to being able to play,” a comment that at least creates the possibility the sophomore could make an appearance against Tennessee.
SEEKING TO RUN: Tennessee has the SEC’s leading rusher in John Kelly, but the Vols gained just 3.5 yards per carry against UMass last week. Jones has emphasized the importance of upgrading that ground attack this week. Tennessee could benefit from the potential return of center Jashon Robertson, who missed the UMass game with an unspecified injury.
RED-ZONE DISCREPANCY: Georgia ranks first and Tennessee ranks 13th out of 14 SEC teams in red-zone efficiency. Georgia has scored 10 touchdowns and three field goals on its 13 trips inside an opponent’s 20-yard line. In its only previous SEC game this year, Tennessee totaled just three points out of three red-zone possessions at Florida.
VOLS’ TOP-10 DROUGHT: Tennessee is attempting to beat a top-10 team for the first time since a 51-33 victory over No. 10 Georgia in 2006.
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