Number drops in top 25 polls after loss to Georgia
Tennessee saw its dreams of an undefeated season end and its chances of winning the SEC East dimmed in a 27-13 loss to Georgia on Saturday. The College Football Playoff rankings, released on ESPN Tuesday night, are the ones that matter now that the final month of the season is here, but two of the top 25 polls went nowhere and both went out as usual on Sunday. The Vols fell three spots from a tie for No. 2 with Ohio State to No. 5 in the Associated Press poll and two spots to No. 5 in the USA Today Sports AFCA Coaches Poll.
Heading into Saturday’s showdown in Athens, Georgia was ranked No. 1 in both polls, but Tennessee moved into No. 1 in the CFP rankings.
The defending champion Bulldogs likely will end up there Tuesday night when the selection committee releases its second set of rankings after holding the Vols to just 13 points and 289 yards and snuffing out any hopes of a Tennessee comeback in a rain-soaked second half after running to a halftime lead 24-6.
The combination of the opponent and the environment got the worst of Tennessee, which was flagged for seven false start penalties, allowed six shots, lost two turnovers to wipe out two forced by its defense and mustered just one 20+ game on offense , while giving up five on defense.
“They can happen at any time if you’re not invested, prepared, in control of your emotions and playing your best football,” Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel he said. “She certainly raised her head tonight at the start of the football game, for sure, and sometimes throughout the game. These guys are resilient. These guys are competitors. These guys have a lot of pride. We will reset. We’ve gotten to this point by focusing on one game at a time, and for us, I hate the way this one turned out, for sure. Everyone hurts in that locker room. We have to reset and get back to work on Monday.”
In the coaches poll, Tennessee is now behind Georgia (which received 61 of 63 first-place votes), Ohio State, Michigan and TCU – the Vols are the top-ranked one-loss team, checking in ahead of Oregon and Southern California.
The Vols are also behind four undefeated in the media poll.
Georgia entered the SEC Championship Game after defeating Tennessee. The Bulldogs essentially have a two-game lead in the division race with only games remaining at Mississippi State and Kentucky and would have to lose both to miss Atlanta, provided the Vols win out. Tennessee has remaining games against Missouri (home), South Carolina (road) and Vanderbilt (road).
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