Georgia Bulldogs vs. Tennessee Volunteers
Date and Time: Saturday, September 30, 2017, 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, TN
Opening College Football Odds: Georgia -6.5
Georgia vs. Tennessee TV Coverage: CBS
The collection of talent here at Tennessee is relatively unbelievable. Jones has done a great job on the recruiting trail over the years, and anyone who watches the Vols play will realize just how talented this group is.
Still, that collection couldn’t put away an 0-4 UMass team until the final minute of the game, and it needed a miracle to fend off a Georgia Tech team that was always beatable in Atlanta on Labor Day night.
Now, Tennessee enters its most crucial stretch of the season and the most important in the five-year tenure for Jones. The Volunteers have Georgia and South Carolina at home followed by roadies against Alabama and Kentucky. No one expects to see the team win at Alabama, but the other three games are ones that the alumni and the fan base in general will expect to see UT win. Anything less than 2-2 could see Jones fired before Halloween.
Georgia is now 4-0 and sporting a top 10 ranking after beating up Mississippi State 31-3 last weekend. We won’t find out for a while just how good MSU is, and the fact that LSU struggled against Syracuse probably takes some of the luster off of that win. But 4-0 is 4-0, especially with Jacob Eason sidelined for all but three passes to date.
Of course, Kirby Smart is set to have a decision to make regarding his quarterback. Eason is just a sophomore and is one of the more highly-regarded quarterback recruits Georgia has had since Matthew Stafford. That said, look at what Jake Fromm has done, throwing for 650 yards and seven touchdowns with just one pick on 69 attempts. It’s hard to say that he isn’t capable at this point in the year.
For all of the bellyaching about Fromm, the man who deserves all the credit for the way Georgia has come out of the gates this year is Nick Chubb. Remember when Chubb was the man who replaced Todd Gurley and set the world on fire a couple years ago, only to be relatively silent last year? Chubb is back to his dominant self, averaging 6.3 yards per carry without a single run that has covered more than 32 yards. He has six touchdowns in four games and has had to shoulder a very heavy load with Sony Michel out injured.
It’s not quite fair to look at Tennessee’s 242.2 rushing yards per game allowed and say that it has one of the worst rush defenses in America after the team played against Georgia Tech to start the season. But even if you take that game out, foes are averaging 144.7 rushing yards per game against this unit and almost five yards per carry.
Georgia vs. Tennessee Free Picks
Last year’s game between these two teams was flat out wild. The Volunteers took a 28-24 lead last year when Corey Vereen returned a fumble for a touchdown when Georgia had the ball with less than three minutes to play. The Bulldogs came back down the field and scored on a 47-yard pass from Eason to Riley Ridley, only to have Jauan Jennings haul in a 43-yard touchdown at the gun to take the game back.
This one won’t be anywhere near as wild, but we suspect it’s going to be a close-run game regardless. Not knowing if Eason will or will not be ready to get back in the fold is going to make this one tough to handicap, but we know that Tennessee has the horses for a challenge like this one.
If the Volunteers were able to play in Gainesville on an emotional day following Hurricane Irma, we don’t see a reason why John Kelly and Quinten Dormady can’t lead them to an upset at home of the Dawgs to really throw the SEC East into a tailspin early in the season.
College Football ATS Pick: Tennessee +6.5 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: Tennessee 27, Georgia 24