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Best moments and highlights from Tennessee vs. Georgia

Best moments and highlights from Tennessee vs. Georgia

Defending national title no. 3 Georgia Bulldogs host number 1 Tennessee Volunteers in a matchup that will likely have major implications for the SEC Championship Game and College Football Playoff.

According to ESPN Analytics, the winner of this game will also have a 99% chance of winning the SEC East.

This has been a one-sided series in recent years as Georgia enters the showdown riding a five-game winning streak — tied for its longest in the series — with all five wins coming by more than 20 points.

Tennessee will try to change that with the Heisman Trophy favorite Hendon Hooker at the head. Hooker has 21 touchdown passes this season, second only to Peyton Manning (23) in eight games in program history. Most of them are gone Jalin Hyatt (14), who is on pace to become the third receiver in SEC history to catch 20 touchdown passes in a season.

Here are the best moments from Tennessee-Georgia:

Weather plays a factor

Noise was a factor for Tennessee’s offense, and now the rain is pouring down at Sanford Stadium, causing ball security issues for both teams. Tennessee’s Jaylen Wright and Georgia Branson Robinson he coughed up back-to-back plays near the end of the third quarter. Before that, the Bulldogs figured out the best way to slow down Tennessee’s rushing attack — keeping it on the sidelines. Georgia had a 15-play, 67-yard drive that lasted 8 minutes, 44 seconds. Jack PodlesnyA 38-yard field goal gave the Bulldogs a 27-6 lead after three quarters. — Schlabach

Takeaways from the first half

Georgia

Georgia is not bad in attack either. After fumbling the ball on its first possession, Georgia scored touchdowns on three of its next four drives and piled up 306 yards of offense in the first half. Quarterback Stetson Bennett handled Tennessee’s pressure-based defense well, throwing for two scores and running for another. The Bulldogs ran the ball well when they wanted to. They had just as much success against the UT secondary, which had several big losses. Georgia’s offensive line stifled Tennessee’s defensive front, giving Bennett plenty of time to throw and the running backs plenty of room to run.

On the other side of the ball, Georgia’s defense pressured the UT quarterback well Hendon Hooker. The Bulldogs avoided breakdowns in the secondary and mostly kept the Vols’ quick wildouts in front of them. — Mark Schlabach

Tennessee

The crowd noise was deafening in the first half, and Tennessee repeatedly put itself in third-and-long situations, which is exactly what coach Josh Heupel said the Vols must avoid. The Vols took back-to-back false start penalties after moving inside the Georgia 10-yard line in the second quarter. It was that half for the Vols, who scored three times after scoring 18 times in their previous eight games.

All season, Tennessee has been able to come up with explosive passing plays, but the Vols haven’t been able to hit any big plays down the field in the first half.

But above all, Georgia was the better team at the line of scrimmage in the first half. The Vols couldn’t get any pressure on Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett, who had a ton of time to throw and picked apart the Vols secondary. Tennessee was fine running the ball and didn’t have an offensive play from scrimmage longer than 17 yards. That’s after entering the game with 36 FBS-leading punts of 30 yards or longer.

With Tennessee held to two McGrath field goals, it marked the first time this season since a 34-27 overtime win against Pittsburgh in Week 2 that the Vols went an entire half without a score. — Chris Low

The score before the break

The Bulldogs tacked on another goal before halftime with a field goal as time expired. Georgia enters the locker room with a 24-6 lead over Tennessee.

It’s loud in Athens

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Crowd noise has played a factor for the Vols so far. Tennessee committed five fake penalties with 9:56 left in the second quarter.

Georgia’s Twitter account noted the errors before filming.

Tennessee takes the lead

Tennessee’s 11-play, 56-yard drive ended with a field goal as Georgia’s defense stiffened on their side of the field.

Tennessee trails 21-6.

Hot start for Bennett

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett looks like a Heisman Trophy contender playing at Sanford Stadium on Saturday — at least so far.

The former running back had three touchdowns to give the Bulldogs an early 21-3 lead over the No. 1 Volunteers. The first came on a 13-yard run in which he eluded a blitzing UT player and beat the second to the corner of the end zone. The second was a 37-yard pass Ladd McConkey down the right side. McConkey made a nasty move on the UT safety Doneiko Slaughter to pass him by. The third was a 5-yard punt Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint in the back of the end zone. Bennett completed 6 of 10 passes for 156 yards in the first quarter. So far, he has handled UT’s pressure well. — Mark Schlabach

The Dawgs hit fast

The Bulldogs needed one play to extend their lead Stetson Bennett found Ladd McConkey for a 37-yard touchdown.

Georgia leads 14-3.

Bennett finds the end zone

UGA quarterback Stetson Bennett receiver found Arian Smith on a 52-yard pass to get Georgia into Tennessee territory. On third down at the Vols’ 13-yard line, Bennett showed off his mobility by leaping and diving into the pylon for the score.

Georgia leads 7-3 after overtime.

Vols capitalize on Bulldogs turnovers

Bulldogs running back Daijun Edwards fumbled on the opening drive, leading to a field goal for the Volunteers. Tennessee leads 3-0.

That was pretty good position by the Georgia defense after Edwards coughed up a fumble on the first possession. The Volunteers took over at the UGA 47, but the Bulldogs forced a long field goal by the UT kicker Chase McGrath. Crowd noise was a factor early on; The Volunteers had two false starts on their first possession. — Schlabach

Celebrity sightings

Cleveland Browns running back and Georgia alum Nick Chubb and more stars are in the building to watch the Bulldogs take on the Vols.

Updates from Sanford

As expected, the Georgia receiver Adonai Mitchell will not play against the Volunteers. He’s not in his warm-up uniform. Mitchell, a sophomore from Missouri City, Texas, has been sidelined with an ankle injury and hasn’t played since Georgia’s 33-0 shutout of Samford on Sept. 10. He had five catches for 69 yards with one score in a 49-3 rout of Oregon in the opener. He is one of Georgia’s top threats and quarterback Stetson Bennett he could have used it against Tennessee’s shaky secondary. — Schlabach

What should you know about the Vols?

Tennessee coach Josh Heupel said the Vols should be as healthy as they have been all season.

Cedric Tillman, who led Tennessee in receiving last season, figures to provide a boost to an already potent receiving corps. He played limited snaps last week against Kentucky, and Heupel said they had him on a “pitch count” after missing the previous four games.

Heupel said Tillman will be “ready to play” against the Bulldogs. The 6-foot-3 Tillman creates serious problems with his size and athleticism, especially with speed Jalin Hyatt and his 14 touchdowns on the other side.

Tillman practiced at full speed, but the Vols wanted to make sure he was 100 percent before returning him to the game. Tillman had pulled cord surgery in September to repair a high ankle sprain. — Low

And those Dawgs?

There’s no question Georgia’s defense will miss the senior outside linebacker Nolan Smith, who led the Bulldogs in sacks, tackles for loss and quarterback hurries. He is a versatile defender that Georgia has moved around a lot, and is one of the team’s most experienced players.

But the Bulldogs will struggle to pressure the Volunteers quarterback Hendon Hooker regardless. Hooker gets rid of the ball quickly in Tennessee’s rushing attack. He has tremendous eye discipline and doesn’t make many mistakes, which is why he has only one interception this season.

Georgia cornerbacks — Kelee Ringo and Kamari Lassiter — will have to play well on the perimeter to slow down the Vols. They will face a huge challenge in trying to contain UT receivers Tillman, Bru McCoy and Hyatt.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart said the Bulldogs will have to adjust to UT’s pace on the fly and do it well.

“They have more strides that they use and they can go as fast as anybody in the country. They practice it, they preach it, they do a really good job of exploring themselves and figuring out how they can go faster. And our job is to be able to match that level of conditioning.” — Schlabach

It’s in Athens

What could be the biggest game in Sanford Stadium history is still hours away, but thousands of fans have arrived in Athens from all over.

Former Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning is here. So does former Georgia defensive back and NFL Hall of Famer Champion Bailey. Country music star Luke Bryan arrived at “College GameDay” on a private jet. PGA Tour golfers Kevin KisnerGeorgia alum and former US Open champion Gary Woodland were expected to arrive from Justin Thomas‘ wedding in Nashville on Saturday morning.

The Bulldogs have hosted plenty of big games at Sanford Stadium over the past 93 years, but perhaps none bigger than Saturday’s, which will likely decide the SEC East title and who plays in the SEC championship game. The winner will also gain access to the College Football Playoff, while the loser will need help from other teams to make the top four.

It’s the first top-five game at Sanford Stadium since 1983, when Bo Jackson and No. 3 Auburn ended No. 4 Georgia’s SEC 23-game winning streak with a 13-7 win between the hedges.

“It’s a big game, isn’t it?” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “There’s nothing about the number in front of him. It would be a big game regardless because both teams are in the East.” — Schlabach





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