Bulldogs themselves were absolutely gorgeous. The upcoming CFP Rankings won’t be released until Tuesday, but the defending champions should return to the top once again. Saturday’s second-placed Ohio State also won, but in a less impressive fashion, 21-7 over team 1-7 from Northwestern.
By defeating the #1 team on the ground, Bulldogs answered the main panel’s criticism – quality wins over seeded teams aren’t enough. They are already ranked #1 by the Associated Press and USA Today polls.
Georgia (9-0, 6-0 SEC) now has two top-10 wins, 49-3 over No. 8 Oregon and a 14-point win over No. 1 Tennessee (8-1, 4-1) witnessed by a crowd power of 92.746. They, along with the national CBS television audience, know all too well that Vols’ single landing came with 4:15 to play.
“In our locker room right now, it doesn’t matter much to us,” cornerback officer Kelly Ringo said Georgia might be back in first place. “Because, obviously, we have a lot to prove.”
The Bulldogs’ win – it was their sixth in a row over the Vols – made them 9-0 for the second season in a row, and 6-0 in SEC play. With that said, Georgia’s prospects for a fifth appearance in the past six years as the SEC Eastern Division champions are improving. But there is still work to be taken care of.
The last two Bulldogs games on the road, Saturday in Mississippi (7 p.m.) and then November 19 in Kentucky. But thanks to Saturday’s win, Georgia will have to lose twice in order for the Falls to win and reclaim the East.
Bulldogs were content – perhaps too much – to bleed the clock during torrential rain in the fourth quarter. Georgia took advantage of the last 4:52 minute of the first half with a long shot that led to a chip field shot at the end of the first half. Taking the ball back from the Vols in the third quarter, the Bulldogs held it back for 8:44, settling back on a field goal. But the possessions effectively diminished any remaining hope Tennessee had of returning.
Quarterback Stetson Bennett beat Tennessee Heisman Award nominee Hendon Hooker with 257 yards and two touchdowns on 17 of 24. Bennett completed throws for nine different receivers, including sophomore Ladd McConkey, who led all flankers with five grabs for 94 yards and falling. Bennett also scored a 13-yard run.
“We think we have a good attack as well,” Bennett said.
McConkey said, “We definitely did (we wanted to prove something). It’s one crime. They set crazy numbers. Being able to go ahead and do and do the things that we did was amazing.”
Tennessee, who averaged 553 yards, can barely manage half of that. The Vols finished with 289 yards, 102 of which came in the fourth. Hooker only had 160 yards passing and didn’t land, and Georgia fired him six times. Giving 54 plays of 20 yards or more, the Vols had one Saturday, and that came after they dropped by three notches in the late fourth quarter. TN recorded only TD with 4:15 to play.
“He’s obviously disappointed with the outcome of the game,” said second-year Tennessee coach Josh Hubble. Credit to Georgia. They won the decisive plays.”
The Bulldog reminded the panel and the CBS national television audience that defense, in fact, still matters. They entered the game topping the nation with the fewest points allowed, averaging 10.5 points per match. The 2021 National Championship defense only gave up 10.2 per game. Tennessee was leading the nation with an average of 49.4 points.
My Starks angel safety led the Bulldogs with 10 tackles, Ringo and fellow defender Javon Pollard had seven each, Galen Carter had to defend the sack, two tackles for a loss and four stops overall.
Georgia also had a strong special teams game, with a 75-yard kick dropped at Tennessee 1 playing a big role.
“We’ve been playing supplemental football here for a long time,” Smart said. “I think this is how you should play football.
Saturday’s game between the two highest-rated teams of all time at Sanford Stadium certainly didn’t start the way the Bulldogs had hoped. They turned the ball around on their opening possession, with Dijon Edwards slipping, and the safety of Tennessee Tamarion MacDonald’s recovery at Georgia 49.
But as throughout the first half, the Bulldogs’ defense stood tall. The Vols’ high-speed, fast-paced attack could only manage 14 yards and had to settle on Chase McGrath’s 49-yard field goal.
Soon it became all of Georgia after that. Behind Bennett’s explosive pass game, the Bulldogs scored three touchdown drives before Tennessee earned another field goal.
The first one came after the completion of the 53-yard Bennett build to expand Ariane Smith and put it deep in the Tennessee area. After four plays, Bennett found himself under pressure on a pass. Dodging the rush, Bennett found a spot off the right end and scored by diving into an edifice that was, oddly enough, initially doomed far from the goal line. The video review awarded Bennett six points, and Georgia quickly advanced 7-3.
Bennett was passing for the Bulldogs’ next two touchdowns on the 37-yard pass to McConkey and 5 yards to Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint in third. The latter was only an early example of the astonishing efficiency with which Bennett and the Bulldogs turned a third touchdown. They were 3 out of 5 in the first half and 6 out of 9 in the three quarters.
During the same time period, volumes 1 vs 9 were on football money. During three quarters, Tennessee State scored zero play for 20 yards or more. She entered the game with 54 such plays.
This was dictated by a Georgia defense who was playing without great outside full-back Nolan Smith and his replacement Robert Peel lost just 40 seconds into the second half. Most importantly, the Bulldog had a Carter.
Carter had missed three games over four weeks with a knee sprain before returning for a limited job in third place against Florida. Against Tennessee, Carter played pretty much every time. Hooker lost to the confusion when Carter bumped him into the finish zone late in the first quarter. But Tennessee guard Javonties Springs picked up the ball in the end zone only to be dropped again, this time by Nazir Stackhouse.
It looked like a safety for the Bulldogs, but a video review ruled the ball was outside the end zone when it fumbled into the goal line.
Apparently it was important at the time, it really wasn’t. Bennett simply hit McConkey with a midcourt kick at the start of the 37th for Georgia.
“We all love this Galen back,” Stackhouse said. “He brings a lot of energy to the crew, a lot of toughness. For him to go out there and impact the game like that was something we all expected, because he’s Galen Carter.
Thus, the defeat was continuous.
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