SEC Game of the Week: Tennessee at Georgia
Not too often is there a game where so much is riding on a win or loss. Sure, with every game someone has to win and someone has to lose, but to the winner of this game goes an intensely rich feeling of success and to the loser goes devastation on the path they are currently navigating.
For the Tennessee Volunteers, it’s about reestablishing their winning tradition. It’s about showing every analyst who picked carelessly against them that they need to look twice at what’s going on in Knoxville. Tennessee has a stretch of four conference games against top 25 ranked opponents, the first time since they’ve had such a stretch since 1991 when they played five ranked schools in a row. What a feeling it would be if Tennessee could start recreating the success they had in 1991.
For the Georgia Bulldogs, they have everything on their plate. Georgia controls their own destiny to the BCS championship game. Their quarterback Aaron Murray is right in the thick of the Heisman debate. Their defensive end Jarvis Jones, despite battling injury, is looking like an early season candidate as a first team All-American. It’s not about rebuilding and for some reason Mark Richt isn’t on the hot seat right now. No, for Georgia they have everything to play for and they are looking really good doing it so far.
We all know that Tennessee lost to the Florida Gators, but to anyone who watched this game, they know that Tennessee was in it more the majority three quarters only to have a score that didn’t at all represent how they played.
Tennessee Vs. Georgia Breakdown
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. EDT
Stadium: Sanford Stadium (92,746 – Natural Grass). Opened on October 12, 1929, Georgia is currently 316-98-10 there all-time.
Radio: Vol Network, Bob Kesling (play-by-play) and Tim Priest (color analyst). Carried on 67 stations statewide in Tennessee, as well as over the phone on Teamline USA by calling 1-800-846-4700 ext. 5405 … Georgia Bulldog Radio Network, Scott Howard (play-by-play), Eric Zeier (color analyst). Carried on 56 stations statewide in Georgia, as well as four out-of state in Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee … Sirius Satellite Radio, channel 91 … XM Satellite Radio, channel 91 … ESPN Radio (national broadcast) Bill Rosinski (play-by-play), David Norrie (color analyst), Joe Schad (sideline).
TV: CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System) Verne Lundquist (play-by-play), Gary Danielson (color analyst), Tracy Wolfson (sideline)
Internet Steams: utsports.com, georgiadogs.com
Rankings(AP/Coach): Tennessee (RV#38/RV#40), Georgia (#5/#5)
Series: Tennessee leads 21-18-2… Georgia won the previous meeting 20-12. Tennessee last won on October 10, 2009, 45-19.
Coaches: Tennessee – Derek Dooley (Virginia, ’90), 14-15 at Tennessee (3rd year) and 31-35 all-time (6th year). Dooley is 0-2 vs. Georgia and Mark Richt… Georgia – Mark Richt (Miami, Fla. ’82) 110-38 at Georgia and all-time (12th year). Richt is 2-0 vs. Dooley and 7-4 against Tennessee.
The Heisman hype has surrounded Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray and rightfully so. Murray has thrown for 1,092 yard and 10 touchdowns on the season while leading Georgia to a 4-0 start. But while all the attention has been on Murray, don’t be so quick to count out his counterpart Tyler Bray. Bray’s stats haven’t been too shabby either, as he has thrown for more yards than Murray–1,301 to be exact–and more touchdowns with 12. But the secret to this stat is that Bray has attempted 44 more passes than Murray, who has the luxury of the nation’s 18th ranked rushing attack, as opposed to Tennessee’s, which ranks 59th.
Friends Til the End
The meeting on the field Saturday will be between more than two of the nation’s better quarterbacks: it will be between two personal friends in Murray and Bray. How did they meet? The Manning family brought them together. The Manning Passing Academy in Louisiana–which is led by Archie Manning, Peyton Manning and Eli Manning–invited both to be counselors for the Academy after excelling in the program. They formed a solid friendship and speak on the phone about non-football related topics quite regularly. But don’t think they haven’t talked about the upcoming match-up in Athens.
“We talked last night actually,” Bray said Tuesday. “We were talking a little bit about [Saturday’s game]. We talked about how we want to put on a show. We both missed some throws last year.”
Jarvis in Charge
Being named to the watch list of the prestigious Butkus Award in the preseason, all Georgia fans knew they had a solid defensive end in Jarvis Jones. But Georgia fans aren’t the only ones to notice. This past week, ESPN’s draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr. moved Jones to the No. 1 spot on his draft board for the 2013 NFL Draft.
If this holds up, Jones would be the top NFL prospect and go first in the draft, enabling him to score a massive contract. It’s always great when your players are receiving awards and praise, but let’s see how Jones responds to this now that there’s no one ahead of him.
The Passing vs. The Scoring
It’s no doubt that both teams will be looking to win the game by any means necessary on Saturday, but for each one to have the best chance, they will have to play off their strengths. For Tennessee, that would be their eighth ranked passing attack. We’ve already touched on Bray’s passing success, and for the Vols it gives them an average of 341.3 yards per game through the air.
On the Georgia side of things, they will look to use their ninth ranked ability to simply score points. Whether it’s from the hand of Murray, special teams, or the defense taking a turnover in for a score, the Bulldogs have found many ways to generate points, averaging 47.5 per game.
Home Sweet… Road?
Amazingly, even with the dominating success that Georgia has enjoyed at home, particularly at Sanford Stadium, Tennessee actually leads the series in Athens 10-9-1. Georgia has had some recent success at righting this statistic, winning the last two games at home, and could even the series in Athens with a win on Saturday.
Also interesting to note is that although the teams have traded wins back and forth in this series in recent years, only once in the last seven games has it been decided by less than 12 points. Whoever wins this game usually dominates, so it would be uncharacteristic to expect a close game. The closest game in recent memory was Richt’s first season, a 26-24 Georgia win.