Georgia vs. Tennessee score takeaway: No. 3 Dawgs stifle No. 1 Vols offense in dominating rivalry win

No. 3 Georgia outplayed No. 1 Tennessee on a rainy day at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia, which proved even more depressing for the Volunteers’ national championship aspirations. The Bulldogs took first place alone atop the SEC Eastern standings after a 27-13 demolition of the Rival Flights that continued Georgia’s torrid run as defending champions and knocked Tennessee out of the undefeated ranks. .

Tennessee entered the game with the best offense in the nation, but Georgia’s dominating defense — led by star defensive lineman Jalen Carter — held the Vols without a touchdown for three quarters. Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker, a Heisman Trophy contender entering the game, didn’t have a single passing play of 20 yards or more, despite that being a staple of this fast-paced offense.

Georgia QB Stetson Bennett IV rushed for a 13-yard touchdown on the Dawgs’ second practice, making it 7-3 early in the contest. The defense pinned Tennessee deep and Paxton Brooks was forced out of the shadow of his own goalpost. This put Georgia’s offense in excellent position on the field, and Bennett immediately threw a 37-yard touchdown to Ladd McConkey to make it 14-3. Bennett followed that up with a 5-yard strike to Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint in the second quarter to take a 21-3 lead. At that point, it was smooth sailing for the defending champions.

What are the main takeaways from Georgia’s romps?

Stetson Bennett had the keys

It was clear from the moment Georgia took an offensive snap that coach Kirby Smart and offensive coordinator Todd Monken gave Bennett the keys to lead the offense, and the veteran kept his foot on the gas. He hit Arian Smith on a 52-yard bomb down the middle on the first play of practice two, which really set the tone. His touchdown run came three plays later after he escaped pressure and dove towards the pylon. Monken called 21 passing plays in the first half against 15 running plays – one of which was Bennett’s run for six.

Hooker came with the Heisman hype but Bennett proved he was the best quarterback on the court in this one. It’s becoming quite common these days. He averaged 293.6 yards per game although he didn’t have to do too much in the fourth quarter in most of his games. Should we now mention Bennett in the Heisman conversation? Hooker had a horrible day between hurdles while Ohio State star CJ Stroud was less than stellar in the win over Northwestern. Better late than never to add Bennett to the Heisman talks.

The Georgian front seven is taking its toll

Georgia’s defensive front not only dominated the game, but reminded the college football world that their defense can still win a championship. The Bulldogs sacked Hooker six times and had eight tackles for the afternoon loss, and that was the main reason this game went out of shape in the first half. Jalen Carter had a strip sack on Hooker late in the first quarter that tipped the momentum to red and black. Tennessee offensive lineman Javontez Spraggins picked it up and barely got it out of the end zone to avoid a safety, but it gave Georgia great field position and Bennett the chance to hit McConkey on field. It was the streak that set the tone for the whole match.

The defense’s ability to put Tennessee’s offense behind the sticks kept it from picking up the pace and putting Hooker in terrible situations. That paid off in a second half that included five Georgia sacks against a gassed Tennessee offensive line.

Lack of explosiveness in Tennessee’s passing game

Tennessee entered the game ranked 12th in the nation in passes for 20 or more yards (40). There was only one on Saturday, and it came in the fourth quarter when the game was essentially over. Hooker was running for his life the entire game, and even when he had time (which wasn’t often), the Georgia secondary was perfectly happy to play over and force those big receivers under.

It wasn’t due to a lack of effort, however. Hooker knocked down Jalin Hyatt on the right sideline in the first quarter, which might have loosened up the Bulldogs defense a bit. He was picked off by Kelee Ringo on the goal line when he tried to force one on Cedric Tillman despite the star defensive back’s fantastic coverage.

It was like Tennessee hadn’t changed. There was no adjustment and he couldn’t play outside of his comfort zone. Great teams can win this way, but this offensive performance shows there’s still work to be done for coach Josh Heupel and his program to compete at the elite level.

Tennessee CFP’s Luck Isn’t Dead

The loss will likely keep the Volunteers out of the SEC Championship Game, but his chances of earning a spot in the college football playoff field remain alive. If they can lead the table in their last three games (against Missouri, South Carolina, at Vanderbilt), several scenarios could develop in favor of Tennessee.

A one-loss Tennessee team that has a win over a one-loss Alabama would look just fine on the committee, even though the Crimson Tide would have an SEC title to brag about in that scenario. If Georgia wins the SEC Championship Game, Tennessee would have an airtight case to be called the SEC’s second-best team. This would put him at the top of the loss hierarchy, as he would have the best loss in the country.

There is still a lot of football to be played and many other scenarios will develop between now and Selection Sunday. This loss, however, eliminates any margin for error in the future.

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