Last year’s Georgia-Tennessee game went to the wire, with the Volunteers taking a road win in Athens on a 43-yard touchdown pass from Joshua Dobbs to Jauan Jennings as time expired.
This year it never was close in Georgia’s 41-0 victory Saturday at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. The tone was set when Georgia’s Tyrique McGhee intercepted a pass on the first play of the game at the Tennessee 27. That turnover set up a field goal by Rodrigo Blankenship, the first of two Bulldogs field goals on the day.
In between, Georgia scored five touchdowns.
The win was Georgia’s first shutout against the Vols since a 44-0 victory in Athens in 1981, a streak of 27 games, and the first shutout in Knoxville since 1923.
Here are three things to know from the Bulldogs’ victory, which was the 800th in program history:
LOOKING LIKE JUNKYARD DOGS
Georgia’s defense stifled Tennessee in the first half, setting the tone for the rest of the game. The Vols gained only 64 yards in the half, 53 on the ground. They finished with 142 yards of offense, 62 on the ground, and averaged 2.7 yards per play.
In the first half, Vols quarterback Josh Dormady was 3-for-12 passing for 11 yards and two interceptions, and he had a passer rating of minus-0.6. When Dormady was pulled with 1:04 to go in the third quarter, he was 5-of-16 passing for 64 yards, including a 44-yard catch-and-run play to John Kelly. Jarrett Guarantano finished 6-of-7 for 16 yards.
To makes matter worse for a struggling offense against a tenacious defense, the Vols committed four turnovers in the game, including a fumble that was snapped by the center off his backside and another fumble that came at the end of the play when Tennessee showed his first spark of the game, the 44-yard pass play to Kelly.
Finally, Tennessee was 1-of-12 on third-down conversion attempts and allowed three sacks.
THEN THERE WAS THE GEORGIA OFFENSE
Though there were no spectacular plays, Georgia gained 378 yards, 180 in the first half and 198 in the second.
Running backs Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield each had a run of 20 or more yards. Chubb led the way with 109 yards, on 16 carries, and Michel scored a touchdown. Quarterback Jake Fromm scored two touchdowns rushing and gained 20 yards on seven carries. Michel gained 58 yards on seven carries in the second half. Chubb gained 75 of his yards in the first half.
Fromm was 7-of-15 passing for 84 yards with one touchdown and one interception, and he had a QB rating of 102.4. His touchdown was a 12-yard pass to Javon Wims in the first quarter. Fromm had a QB rating of 102.4.
THE RETURN OF JACOB EASON
Sophomore quarterback Jacob Eason entered the game with 8:47 to play in the game, with a primary task: Hand off the ball to run out the clock. On the first possession he played, he did that four times, all to Elijah Holyfield, including on Holyfield’s 32-yard run that set up a first-and-goal at the 3. On third-and-goal, Eason misfired on a high, hard pass into the end zone that set up David Marvin’s field goal.
On the next possession, Eason handed off to Holyfield three times and took a knee to end the game.
Eason did his job, got some playing experience for the first time since he injured his knee early in the season opener, and he walked away after Saturday’s game with the knee still healthy.
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