Four college football games this weekend feature matchups between two Top 25 teams. The only such game in the 3:30 P.M. Eastern time slot is No. 14 Tennessee at No. 3 Georgia. Both schools are 2-0 to start the season and are jockeying for position atop the SEC East.
Georgia enters as a 12.5-point favorite. The over/under is set at 43, and the game airs on CBS.
Tennessee Volunteers – Control the Clock
Senior quarterback Jarrett Guarantano has yet to take over a game with his arm. The Vols QB has completed 33 of 54 passes (61.1%) through two games, throwing for 449 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. Guarantano does however have three rushing touchdowns, leading all Volunteers players.
Fellow senior, running back Ty Chandler, does most of the heavy lifting in the run game, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Watch out for sophomore star-in-the-making Eric Gray, who is second on the team with 145 yards, paired with three scores (two rushing, one receiving).
Moving the ball effectively against Georgia’s stout defense will be a tall task. It will take a big game from the Tennessee offense, on the ground and through the air, to keep this matchup close. Having the advantage in time-of-possessions swings momentum heavily in Tennessee’s favor.
Tennessee’s defense ranks fourth in the SEC against the pass (254.0 yards per game) but eighth against the run (107.5). They also have three takeaways through two games (two interceptions and one fumble recovery). The Volunteers will need to come up with some big stops and force Georgia into turnovers to keep this game close.
The Volunteers just missed covering the spread against South Carolina in Week 1, but managed to hit the over of 45. Their 31-27 victory failed to cover the 4.5-point spread (the Gamecocks covered with a late field goal). Last week, the inverse was the case, with a 35-12 win over Missouri good enough to cover the ten-point spread, but failing to go over the total of 49.
Georgia Bulldogs – Quick Start at Home
In front of a not-quite-socially-distanced crowd of more than 20,000 people, Georgia cruised past #7 Auburn last week. Junior quarterback Stetson Bennett impressed in his first collegiate start, throwing for 240 yards and a touchdown, while sophomore standout Zamir White pounded the ball for 19 carries, 88 yards, and two scores.
Georgia capitalized on home field advantage with a raucous fan section, scoring on four of their first five drives against Auburn. The ‘Dogs carried a 24-3 lead into halftime, and hung on for a 27-6 win. Jumping out to an early lead against Tennessee this week would be massive for the Bulldogs, as the Volunteers are near the bottom of the SEC in passing yards per game.
Like Tennessee, Georgia just missed covering the spread in their opening game, a 37-10 win over Arkansas as -28 point favorites. That betting total went under the number of 53. The Bulldogs handily covered their 7.5-point spread with the 21-point win last week, while the total went under 45.
Coming up on UGA’s schedule is a showdown with Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Georgia cannot look ahead to next week, and has to focus on the game at hand. Otherwise, Tennessee can turn this matchup into a “trap” game in a hurry.
Final Thoughts and Pick
Tennessee’s last win against Georgia came back in 2016 and was one for the ages. Georgia scored on a 47-yard touchdown pass with ten seconds remaining to take a 31-28 lead, but Tennessee was able to convert the Hail Mary as time expired with a 43-yard touchdown of their own to escape on the road 34-31.
I don’t see this game coming down to late-game heroics. Georgia’s excellent defense will force the Volunteers to play catch-up and become one-dimensional. However, they won’t run up the score keeping this one under the total.
FREE PLAY: Georgia (-12.5), under 43.