GEORGIA BULLDOGS (4-0)
at TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS (3-1)
Neyland Stadium – Knoxville, TN
Kickoff: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Line: Georgia -7.5, Total: 48
#7 Georgia travels to Knoxville with two Top 25 wins already under its belt.
When Georgia lost starting QB Jacob Eason in the first half of its season opener against Appalachian State, it would have been reasonable to expect a team that already faced uncertain expectations to struggle—especially considering they were bringing in a freshman quarterback in Eason's place. Instead, the Bulldogs are 4-0 (3-1 ATS), with particularly galvanizing victories coming over #24 Notre Dame in South Bend in a 20-19 grindfest (UGA +5.5) and, this past weekend, at home over #17 Mississippi State in a 31-3 blowout (UGA -2.5). Georgia has now risen to #7 in the national rankings, and many are anointing the Bulldogs to be the second-best team in the SEC behind Alabama. The team makes a tough trip this week, though, as they'll cross state borders to take on the 3-1 Tennessee Volunteers (1-3 ATS). Their season has featured an amount of drama that is only appropriate for a Butch Jones team: They beat Georgia Tech in a wild Week 1 comeback, lost on what was basically a Hail Mary pass as time expired against Florida in Week 3, and barely escaped by a 17-13 score as 28-point favorites against UMass last weekend. Over the last 10 seasons, road favorites of 3.5 to 10 points that are allowing 8.0 or less first-half points per game (UGA) are 23-2 ATS when coming off of at least three consecutive Unders. As head coach of Tennessee, Butch Jones is 16-6 Over against the total when playing a team with a winning record.
Few teams were in a better position to "hide" a quarterback than Georgia was when they introduced QB Jake Fromm into the lineup (62.3 CMP%, 650 yards, 7 TDs, INT), but Fromm has been better than could have been reasonably expected. He has only attempted 69 passes in four games, but his average of 9.42 yards per attempt shows that he hasn't overly resorted to check-downs. He was remarkably efficient this past weekend against Mississippi State, completing 9 of 12 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns. He was least effective when forced to throw 29 times against a stiff Notre Dame defense. Georgia has a strong tradition of fielding talented and reliable receivers, and this year's group is no different. WRs Terry Godwin (8 catches, 214 yards, 4 TDs) and Javon Wims (8 catches, 164 yards, TD) have been Fromm's favorite targets, as they lead the team in receptions. TE Isaac Nauta (4 catches, 74 yards, TD) had his first big play of the season against Mississippi State with a 41-yard touchdown reception. Of course, part of the reason that the pass game has been open for Fromm and the Bulldogs is Georgia's incredibly talented running game. RB Nick Chubb (59 carries, 371 yards, 6 TDs) is the star, and he had 81 yards and two scores against MSU. RB Sony Michel (36 carries, 192 yards, 2 TDs) figured to be RB 1A in the backfield, but he actually has fewer yards to this point than RB D'Andre Swift (27 carries, 196 yards, TD).
QB Quinten Dormady (58.7 CMP%, 861 yards, 6 TDs, 4 INTs) had big shoes to fill in replacing the departed Josh Dobbs for Tennessee, and he's seen a mixed bag of results in his first starts for the Volunteers. His performances have arguably gotten worse as the season's gone along—he was gritty in helping lead a comeback against Georgia Tech, but threw three interceptions to help sink his team's chances against Florida. He was largely ineffective last weekend against an inferior UMass team, completing 17 of 27 passes for only 187 yards and a touchdown. It hasn't helped the inexperienced starter that he's been without WR Jauan Jennings, who was the team's leading returning receiver entering this season but is out for the year after breaking his wrist in the opener. Dormady has been able to find a few reliable pass-catchers for his targets, though: WR Brandon Johnson (18 catches, 205 yards, TD) has been effective in moving the sticks, while WR Marquez Callaway (8 catches, 198 yards, 3 TDs) has excelled as a big-play specialist. TE Ethan Wolf (9 catches, 87 yards, TD) has also seen a fair number of balls. Tied for the team lead in receptions is RB John Kelly (81 carries, 450 yards, 6 TDs; 18 catches, 182 yards), who has proven to be one of the most talented, rugged and versatile backs in the country now that he's the full-time lead back in Knoxville. His 25 carries for 101 yards and a TD effectively won the UMass game, while his 237 total yards from scrimmage should have won the Florida game.