The rivalry between Georgia and Tennessee has historically been close, with the Volunteers having just a one-game edge in head-to-head matchups. Sunday marks a new chapter in the SEC matchup, as it features the largest point spread in the series’ history.
The betting odds at Las Vegas casinos have Georgia favored by 17 points. The game isn’t expected to be highly competitive, considering the Bulldogs are ranked No.12 in the country and the Volunteers are one of the worst teams in the SEC.
Despite suffering a loss in their second game, Georgia is still looking to make the first ever College Football Playoff. They lost on the road to then-No.24 South Carolina, but the Bulldogs did open the season with a 24-point victory over Clemson. The win garnered them a vote as the top team in the nation, and they are still considered among the best teams in college football.
Not much is expected of Tennessee in 2014, who is in the midst of the worst stretch in school history. The Volunteers haven’t had a winning season since 2010, going exactly 5-7 in the last three years. Head coach Butch Jones’ squad sits at 1-2 with wins over mediocre competition, but they were defeated 34-10 to No.4 Oklahoma in their last game.
Even though Georgia has been the better team of late, the recent contests have all been close. The Bulldogs needed overtime to beat the Volunteers in 2013, and they won by just one score in the previous two matchups.
Tennessee’s strength has been its defense, but it will be difficult for the team to keep Georgia off the scoreboard. The Bulldogs rank fourth in the college football with 48.7 points per game, and the over/under is listed at 57 total points. In three games, Todd Gurley has been unstoppable, rushing for 402 yards on 41 carries. Sony Michel has added 206 yards on 10.3 yards per attempt.
Injuries to Tennessee’s receiving corps could make it even tougher for the team to keep pace with their rivals. Von Pearson has caught seven passes for 98 yards, but the high ankle sprain that kept him out against Oklahoma will likely keep him sidelined again. Josh Smith, the team’s second-leading receiver, didn’t practice on Wednesday with the same injury, and Jones doesn't seem optimistic that the sophomore would be on the field.
If the Volunteers have any hopes of upsetting Georgia, it might have to be with a strong passing game. In Georgia’s loss to South Carolina, they allowed Dylan Thompson to go 21-of-30 for 271 yards and three scores. In their first game, Georgia held Clemson to 88 rushing yards on two yards per carry.
Justin Worley played well in the team’s two wins, but struggled against elite competition. Against Oklahoma, he completed just 47.7 percent of his passes for 201 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Prediction: A depleted Tennessee offense will have a difficult time scoring at Georgia. Gurley will have a big game, and with Georgia at home, they could get a rare blowout victory over their rivals.
Predicted Score: Georgia 41, Tennessee 17