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It’s a meeting between an offensive masterpiece and a defensive mastermind. A program that just got its strut back against the reigning champions. While it may be the first week of November, Saturday will decide who comes out of the SEC East and which team will, without a doubt, get an invite to the College Football Playoff. Josh Heupel and the Tennessee Volunteers (#1 in the College Football Playoff Rankings) have been special this year. After squeezing out a win against Pittsburgh in week two, the Vols have been lights out. They eviscerated LSU, won an instant classic at home against ‘Bama, and emasculated Kentucky so badly last weekend that Jordan Peterson should probably show up to their facilities for a lecture. After going 19 of 25 with 245 yds through the air and three touchdowns last weekend, Hendon Hooker is now the Heisman favorite. Hooker leads the nation’s most dominant offense, averaging 199.6 yards on the ground, 333.1 yards through the air, and 47.1 points per game.
It’s an offense that ramps up points like my Mom with a Capital One Card with more weapons on it than there are in Kyle Rittenhouse’s shed. All year, Tennessee fans have heard announcers call the name of Jalin Hyatt, who, last week, found himself even more open with the return of another star Tennessee receiver Cedric Tillman. Thanks to his connection with Hendon Hooker, he has not only a team-high 907 yards, but also 14 receiving touchdowns this season, a program record, along with the single-game record of five set earlier in the year against Alabama. So, how is their defense? They defend the rush with the best of ‘em, giving up only 95.4 yards per game on the ground (just .4 more than Georgia), but their secondary has been a work in progress. Opposing quarterbacks have been able to average 298.6 yards per game through the air against Tennessee…not great. However, the Vols’ secondary looked great against future NFL draft pick Will Levis last week, allowing just 98 yards with three interceptions in a dominant performance.
As great as Tennessee has been, Georgia is right there with them. The Bulldogs are averaging 530.1 yards/game, ranking them second in Division 1 football. Last year’s National Championship MVP, Stetson Bennett, hasn’t lost a step since his underdog campaign last year. Bennett has thrown for 2,349 for a completion percentage of 67.8%. Georgia’s receiving arsenal is full of guys that pro teams will take in April, including his favorite target, big tight end Brock Bowers who has tormented SEC opponents with athleticism and physicality. The only reason the national media rarely comments on UGA’s accomplished offense is that their defense is possibly the best we’ve seen on a collegiate level. Despite playing in college football’s most talented conference, Georgia gives up just 281.9 overall yards per game. The Dawgs have many options that can pressure a quarterback, especially Jaylen Carter, who is expected to go top three in this year’s draft. And even when UGA isn’t putting more pressure on quarterbacks than first-generation Asian-American puts on their child around ACT time, they have the best secondary in the FBS.
As great as Georgia is, they’ve had some bumps in the road. UGA barely beat a really bad Mizzou team last month, and they’ve gone just 4-4 ATS. On the other hand, Tennessee has gone 7-1. Vegas likes Georgia -8.5, but Tennessee will beat them straight up, especially with the announcement that Georgia’s second-best defensive lineman Nolan Smith is out for the season. Take the Vols moneyline to get your free $200 from DraftKings!