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SMOKEY v. UGA: Round 51 AVCIS staff predictions

By: The All Vol Call in Show Staff


Graphic | John Dunn

The Tennessee-Georgia match up has quietly been one of the SEC's most competitive rivalries in the history of the conference. It wasn't until recently that Georgia was able to take the series lead behind their current four-game winning streak.

Each team has had their share of exciting wins in the series. Games such as the "hobnail boot" game in 2001, or the "Dobbnail boot" game in 2016, have given each fan base some exciting finishes in the series.

The Bulldogs come into Knoxville bolstering the nations top-ranking, top defense, and third best quarterback in the country. There is no doubt that this will be a tall task for Tennessee.

John Dunn (Founder/Managing Editor/Host):

This game is another "David vs. Goliath" moment for Tennessee. The main difference in games like that this season are that it feels like "David" actually has a chance.

After a thrilling win over the Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington last week, Tennessee's offense is riding a wave of efficiency and momentum. As one of the fastest and most efficient offenses in the country, the Vols could give the Bulldogs' defense fits.

Georgia hasn't played an offense that is to the caliber of Tennessee's this season. However, the Vols have yet to see a defense like Georgia's either. The Bulldogs also have an efficient offense that compliments their defense, which will make things hard on the Tennessee defense who struggled to stop the Wildcats last week in Lexington, giving up 612 yards of offense and 42 points.

Tennessee will make Georgia more uncomfortable than anyone else will this season, and I believe that applies to the likes of Alabama, or anyone else they may play between here and the College Football Playoff. I just don't think that Tennessee has enough depth to slow the Bulldogs down defensively.

The Vols will need to keep the mentality that they have absolutely nothing to lose in this game, while the Bulldogs have everything to lose. There should be zero pressure on Tennessee, allowing them to play a little more loose, and likely hang around with Georgia longer than they probably should.

Prediction: Georgia - 42 | Tennessee - 32

Dallas Bowlin (Senior Staff Writer):

This will truly be a game where something has to give. Georgia and their NFL caliber defense, against Tennessee and their high powered offense, which one wins out? Nationally, the Bulldogs rank as the number-one scoring defense, only allowing 6.5 points per game, while the Vols rank as the fifteenth-best scoring offense, at 38.2 points-per-game.

Georgia’s defense is probably one of the best defenses we have seen in college football in awhile, but Tennessee’s offense has been very impressive so far this season as well. I won’t go as far as to call the upset, but I do think the Vols keep this one close and hang around more than they probably should.

Prediction: Georgia - 27 | Tennessee - 17

Zac Strickland (Senior Staff Writer):

The homestretch is here; quite literally, a home stretch. All three of Tennessee’s remaining games are within the friendly confines of Neyland Stadium. The first may very well be the toughest opponent the Vols face all year. The #1 ranked Georgia Bulldogs have aspirations to win the program’s first national championship since 1980, and so far have looked the part, thanks to an all-time great defense. For Tennessee, it’s an opportunity to play spoiler. But even with another raucous Neyland crowd and the return of the black jerseys, that will be a tall task indeed.

Georgia offensively is, in a nutshell, good but not great. QB Stetson Bennett is the epitome of a solid game manager. JT Daniels, who does have more of a rocket arm than Bennett, is also available for UGA if needed. They have several capable RB’s led by bruiser Zamir White, and like Kentucky, the ground game is their bread and butter offensively. The receivers are all talented and must be accounted for, but no one individual has put up eye-popping stats. Up front they are very good as well, and after seeing the Vols struggle to generate a push defensively against UK, this is a cause for concern.

Their defense is monstrous. They’ve conceded a mere 6.6 ppg, with no opponent scoring more than 13. The front seven has an entire two deep full of future NFL players, led by DT Jordan Davis and LB Nakobe Dean. They have spent all year clogging up running lanes and getting to opposing QB’s. The Vols will likely struggle to go up the middle, so they will need to compensate by making plays on the perimeter. Georgia’s secondary is solid, and will make a QB pay if he throws a bad ball, but are not quite as good compared to the front seven. Velus Jones, JaVonta Payton, and Tiyon Evans (if healthy) will need to win 1-on-1 matchups in space, and Cedric Tillman may need to go up and get some jump balls as well.

Both sides of the ball will have to play their best game of the season for Tennessee to have a shot. The defense in particular has a lot of cleaning up to do after a rough outing against Kentucky. I do think UT will give UGA problems that they haven’t faced so far this year. Does that equate to an upset? Although we’ve seen stranger things happen before, it’s just that so, so many things have to go right for a depth-challenged Tennessee team to even stay close to a loaded team like Georgia for 60 minutes, much less to win. I won’t predict it, but it would be a program-changing moment if somehow it did happen.

Prediction: Georgia - 38 | Tennessee - 21

William Allen (Senior Staff Writer):

This year's game features Georgia's nation-leading defense versus the quick-strike Tennessee offense, led by Hendon Hooker. Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett raises questions about his ability to win a College Football Playoff game while an unhealthy JT Daniels waits to play. This matchup isn’t a playoff, but Kirby Smart needs to game-plan for a possible Tennessee upset.

Last weekend, Purdue toppled #3 Michigan State 40-29 and #9 Wake Forest fell to North Carolina 58-55, with former UT (RB) Ty Chandler leading the charge. Looking at the numbers, Tennessee (5-4, 3-3) and Georgia both average 38 points-per-game, and pass for an identical 240 yards-per-game. Defensively, the Bulldogs allow only 6.6 points-per-game while the Vols give up 28 on average. Look for Tennessee to mix up their playbook defensively, and offensively, and take advantage of home field advantage.

Prediction: Georgia - 39 | Tennessee - 25

Joe Davis (Junior Staff Writer):

I was born and raised in Augusta, Georgia. My grandfather and his children were born and raised in Knoxville,Tennessee. I was a Tennessee fan before I knew what it meant. When I tell you Saturday means a lot to me, it means A LOT to me.

These are not the up-and-down Dawgs I grew up getting talked to death about, this team is fast and relentless and has squeezed the life out of every single opponent they've faced. The offense isn't dynamic, but it doesn't have to be. They have enough firepower to outscore what their defense allows, and that's what they've done.

I won't bore you with stats, but let's say this, if this defense was in orange, Tennessee would be the number-one team in America, without question. They bludgeon you to death, and then bludgeon you a little bit more just for good measure.

Tennessee is the best offense they will have seen all season. They can exploit the closest thing to a weakness the Dawgs have, which is the secondary. Tennessee just needs the time to do it. Look for moving pockets, lots of screens, and anything and everything Huepel and company can draw up to wear down this red and black sledgehammer.

With a full roster and even talent, I think Huepel could out-coach Kirby Smart. But these are not even rosters; not even close. Saturday, the Dawgs continue their onslaught on college football.

Prediction: Georgia - 38 | Tennessee - 20


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