1 of 2 | Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart leads his team to the field to play the Missouri Tigers at Faurot Field in Columbia, Missouri on September 17, 2016. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
After winning three home games and one at a neutral site in nearby Bristol, the No. 11 Tennessee Volunteers go on the road for the first time this college football season.
The Volunteers visit Georgia to take on the No. 25 Bulldogs at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday (ESPN) at Sanford Stadium in Athens.
Tennessee will be looking to carry over the momentum gained from its second-half comeback in a 38-28 win over Florida last week while the Bulldogs are hoping to get the pieces back together from the 45-14 thrashing they took from Ole Miss.
"The silver lining is you get another opportunity to play a good team this week," Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said. "The opportunity that we have looking forward is what we're fired up about.
"I mean, the best thing we can do is look forward and continue to develop our players to get better. My end goal is for each guy to play his best game this game. That's what we want."
Coming off a 28-27 win at Missouri that ran their record to 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the SEC, the Bulldogs never got their game going at Ole Miss until the issue was long decided. The Rebels led 31-0 at the halftime break and stretched their lead to 45-0 before the 'Dogs got a touchdown late in the third quarter and another in the fourth.
There was little to take out of that, but Smart did the best he could.
"It was important to them to get the backs in there, and the backs ran hard," Smart said. "I think that part was really what I wanted to see out of them, was no quit, fight your tail off, and keep battling.
"As far as momentum, I wouldn't say it created any momentum."
Quarterback Jacob Eason, who engineered the comeback against Missouri, played more like the freshman he is at Ole Miss. He threw for 303 yards and three scores, but was completed only 16 of 36 attempts.
The biggest concern now though is the injury to tailback Nick Chubb's ankle. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Chubb will not play in Saturday's game.
For a while, it seemed as if Tennessee was bound for the same kind of day as the Bulldogs when the Volunteers fell behind Florida 21-3 at the half. But Tennessee came roaring out of the locker room in the third quarter, scoring 28 points in a little more than four minutes, and ran off 35 consecutive points before the Gators managed a late score to cut the final margin to 10 points.
The comeback not only snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Gators but confirmed the Volunteers as a the favorite in the SEC East, a distinction they can solidify with a win over the Bulldogs.
"I was very proud of the way our kids competed," Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. "I thought they competed even in the first half. I thought we competed for 60 minutes. We had some individuals really step up and play winning football for us."
Since going 26-of-48 passing for 283 yards and four touchdowns in wins over Appalachian State at home and Virginia Tech in Bristol, quarterback Joshua Dobbs has gone 35 for 59 for 522 yards and six scores in wins over Ohio and Florida. He passed for three touchdowns and ran for two in last year's 38-31 win over the Bulldogs.
After hosting the Volunteers, the Bulldogs go to South Carolina and get Vanderbilt at home before getting an open date before their Oct. 29 game against Florida.
Tennessee the unenviable task of going to Texas A&M and hosting Alabama the next two weeks, which puts even more emphasis on this week's encounter.
"As we know, it's a week-to-week season," Jones said. "The more you win, the more that is at stake."
Prediction and a Pick to Win
The Vols were impressive in the second half of the Florida game and it should continue on the road in Athens. Joshua Dobbs and Jalen Hurd should have big games again this week. With the injury to Nick Chubb, the Bulldogs cannot compete with the upper echelon of the SEC.
Tennessee 31, Georgia 20