By: Sean Cartell
SEC Digital Network
Link: SEC Tradtions - David Greene
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The two top offenses in the Southeastern Conference collide this weekend in Athens, Ga., as No. 5 Georgia plays host to Tennessee at Sanford Stadium. The game is slated for a 3:30 p.m. ET start and will be televised by CBS.
The Bulldogs and Volunteers rank 1-2 in total offense in the SEC this season, respectively, with each squad averaging better than 500 yards per game. Georgia leads the SEC in scoring offense at 47.5 points per game, while Tennessee is fifth in the league in scoring offense at 38.2 points per game. The Vols have the SEC’s top-rated passing offense at 341.2 yards per game, while the Bulldogs are third at 287.5 yards per game.
Tennessee is 3-1 on the season and will be looking for its first victory against a top-five team since defeating No. 4 LSU on the road during the 2005 season. The Vols are coming off a 47-26 win against Akron in Knoxville last weekend. Tennessee’s only loss this season came to then-No. 18 Florida on Sept. 15, 37-20.
“We all know about Georgia,” Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley said. “They are probably playing as good as I’ve seen them play in a long time. The quarterback is averaging 10.5 an attempt, they are scoring 48 points and only giving up 16. They are probably one of the most talented defenses in the country, so we’ve got our work cut out for us. Hopefully we can take a lot of the lessons we have learned in the first four games and try to go play as good as we can play in Athens and see how it turns out.”
Georgia is 4-0 on the season and is coming off a dominating 48-3 win against Vanderbilt in Athens last weekend. The Bulldogs are 2-0 in conference play after taking down Missouri, 41-20, on the road in the second week of the season.
“Tennessee is 3-1 right now and playing extremely good football, especially offensively,” Georgia head coach Mark Richt said. “I know the first four games that they’ve accumulated more yards than any other team in the history of Tennessee football in a four-game span. Tyler Bray is a very talented passer and they have some tremendously skilled receivers. They’ve got a vertical passing game that I know I envy. We like to throw it down the field, but they can really lay it out there good.”
The Vols and Bulldogs meet for the 42nd time in the history of the two programs, with Tennessee holding a 21-18-2 advantage in the all-time series. Georgia has won the last two meetings between the two squads, although Tennessee leads 10-9-1 all-time when the game is played in Athens. The Vols and Bulldogs have met annually since 1992 and first met back in 1936. The Bulldogs won last season’s meeting 20-12 in Knoxville in a game that gave Georgia head coach Mark Richt his 100th career victory. The home team has won four of the last five meetings in the series.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
2011 – Georgia 20, Tennessee 12 (Knoxville, Tenn.)
2010 – Georgia 41, Tennessee 14 (Athens, Ga.)
2009 – Tennessee 45, Georgia 19 (Knoxville, Tenn.)
2008 – Georgia 26, Tennessee 14 (Athens, Ga.)
2007 – Tennessee 35, Georgia 14 (Knoxville, Tenn.)
A LOOK AT THE LAST MEETING
Mark Richt became the third coach in Georgia history to win his 100th game and Georgia left Neyland Stadium with a 20-12 victory against Tennessee. The Bulldogs charted 366 yards of total offense, including 227 passing from quarterback Aaron Murray, who completed 15-of-25 passes on the day. Isaiah Crowell rushed for two touchdowns for the Bulldogs, while Malcolm Mitchell finished with 126 receiving yards. The two teams were tied at six-all entering the locker room at intermission, but the Vols surrendered 14 unanswered points in the third quarter. Bray suffered a broken hand late in the game and would go on to miss the next five games for Tennessee.
PLAYMAKERS – OFFENSE
Tennessee – Tyler Bray, Jr., Quarterback
Bray is currently tied for the national lead in touchdown passes this season with 12 and ranks third in the NCAA in total passing yards with 1,301 through four games. Bray, who is on multiple award watch lists, is 11-5 all-time as a starting quarterback and is throwing for 302 yards per game in 16 career starts. To his credit, Bray has nine career 300-yard games, including three this season.
Georgia – Aaron Murray, Jr., Quarterback
Murray currently leads the SEC’s top scoring and total offense and ranks fourth in the SEC in passing yards per game at 273.0. In his 20 career wins as a starter, Murray has 49 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions. He is the SEC’s leading active career player in total offensive yards (7,569), completions (516), touchdown passes (69) and passing yards (7,290).
PLAYMAKERS – DEFENSE
Tennessee – Byron Moore, Jr., Defensive Back
Moore is tied for fourth in the NCAA so far this season with three interceptions. He currently is tied for sixth in the NCAA and second in the SEC with 0.75 interceptions per game. Moore ranks second on his Tennessee team with 30 tackles and he is among the top-15 in the SEC with an average of 7.5 tackles per game. In UT’s win against Akron, he had a career-high 10 tackles along with two interceptions, becoming the first Vol with two interceptions in the same game since Eric Berry in 2007.
Georgia – Jarvis Jones, Jr., Linebacker
The 2011 SEC sacks leader and a Butkus Award finalist, Jones has posted 24 tackles on the 2012 season and currently leads his team with 4.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss. He ranks second in the SEC so far this season in tackles for loss and is third in the league in sacks. In his squad’s 41-20 victory at Missouri earlier this season, Jones charted eight tackles, a sack and an interception and earned multiple national player of the week honors.
• A Tennessee victory would improve the Vols to 4-1 on the season, marking the program’s best start since the 2006 squad went 7-1 to open the year.
• Georgia boasts its best national ranking (No. 5) since the 2008 season and the Bulldogs are looking to start the season 5-0 for the first time since 2006.
• Tennessee is looking for its first win against a ranked opponent since beating No. 21 South Carolina, 31-13, during the 2009 campaign. The Vols also are seeking their first victory against a top-10 foe since knocking off 10th-ranked Georgia in 2006.
• Georgia is on pace to set a school record for scoring in a single season, currently averaging 47.5 points per game. The modern-era season-best points mark for the Bulldogs is 32.1 points per game, when Georgia led the SEC, scoring 450 points in 14 games.
• Tennessee is tied for second both in the SEC and nationally with eight interceptions, trailing only Mississippi State’s nine.
• Georgia has had three different 100-yard receivers this season and one in each of the squad’s four games this year. The balanced attack features three receivers with at least 260 yards and two touchdowns each this year.
• Tennessee has five scoring drives of 34 or fewer seconds so far this season.
• Georgia opponents have scored just 23 points in the second half this year.