TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS (3-1)
at GEORGIA BULLDOGS (3-0)
Kickoff: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. EDT
Line: Georgia -13, Total: 60
SEC East rivals collide in Athens on Saturday afternoon when Tennessee visits No. 5 Georgia.
These conference foes have split the past eight meetings, with the Vols holding the slight 4-3-1 ATS advantage. Georgia has won the past two matchups (SU and ATS) as Aaron Murray has completed 32-of-50 passes for 493 yards, 2 TD and 0 INT in wins of 41-14 in 2010 and 20-12 last year in Knoxville. This season, Murray has already thrown for 1,092 yards and 10 TD, leading his team to 40+ points in each of four wins. Vols QB Tyler Bray has been even better this year with 1,301 passing yards and 12 TD, but his team is just 1-8 ATS in its past nine SEC games, having lost its conference opener two weeks ago, 37-20 versus Florida.
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The Vols are on a three-game ATS losing skid, but that has been no fault of Bray’s considering he’s thrown for 968 yards and 10 TD in this three-game span. His career numbers in two games against Georgia have been solid too (26-for-45, 332 yds, 0 TD, 0 INT). There was major concern after last year’s top receiver Da’Rick Rogers was ruled ineligible shortly before the season began, but junior WR Justin Hunter is quickly making Vols fans forget about Rogers. Hunter ranks 13th in the nation in both receptions per game (7.5) and receiving YPG (102.5). He didn’t play against Georgia last year, but two years ago he caught four passes for 110 yards and a touchdown in Athens. Tennessee’s rushing offense has been adequate (173 YPG), led by Rajion Neal’s 356 rushing yards. He rumbled for 151 on just 22 carries (6.9 YPC) last week against Akron. On defense, the Vols have been blasted in the past two weeks, allowing 63 points and 899 total yards to Florida and Akron.
Although Murray has been outstanding, UGa may choose to run the football more often than not. In the past two meetings, the Bulldogs have rushed for 275 yards and held Tennessee to minus-11 rushing yards. Freshman Todd Gurley has stepped up in a big way after several UGa ball carriers left the team for various reasons. In his first four collegiate games, Gurley has 406 rushing yards (9.2 YPC) and six touchdowns. But if Gurley is not effective, Murray has three excellent wide receivers, which all rank in the top-10 in the SEC in receiving yards -- Michael Bennett (275 yds, 2 TD), Tavarres King (269 yds, 3 TD) and Marlon Brown (264 yds, 3 TD). Georgia’s defense may get a whole lot better with the expected returns of both S Bacarri Rambo (8 INT in 2011) and LB Alec Ogletree (41 solo tackles in 2011) coming off suspensions. The Bulldogs already have one of the best defensive players in the country in LB Jarvis Jones, who already has 24 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception this year.