Two years ago… this happened.
It was one of the ugliest games in the history of Tennessee’s football program. Georgia won 41-0, handing the Vols a shutout loss for the first time in 23 years. It was UT’s most lopsided home loss since 1905. The Bulldogs easily could have gone for a double nickel had they not eased up at the finish.
To make matters worse, Georgia fans took over Neyland Stadium. As Vols fans headed for the exits, it felt like Sanford Stadium with a sea of red across the bleachers, a scene which has been reserved for Alabama fans in recent years as well.
These were two ships passing in the afternoon in Knoxville. Georgia has turned into a national championship contender while the Vols… haven’t.
The 2017 loss came only one year after Jauan Jennings cemented his place in Tennessee lore with a Hail Mary grab in Athens.
But that play feels like a lifetime ago.
On Saturday night this rivalry is renewed, and optimism is very low in Tennessee circles. The Vols have had two weeks to prepare for the Bulldogs, but I’m not sure what miracles offensive coordinator Jim Chaney can manufacture, even with an extra seven days at his disposal.
You either have good quarterback play, or you don’t, and Tennessee doesn’t have good quarterback play. Redshirt junior Jarrett Guarantano simply isn’t making the throws he needs to make and that is bringing the offense down. True freshman Brian Maurer saw some action in Gainesville a couple of weeks ago, completing 4 of 11 passes for 44 yards, plus an INT. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Maurer under center at some point against the Bulldogs.
Third-ranked Georgia is a really good football team. Offense, defense, and special teams… all solid. Kirby Smart is in his fourth season, and has been tantalizingly close to getting the Bulldogs their first national title since 1980. They won’t be at risk of looking past Tennessee and even if they did, they have too much talent to drop this contest. Oh, and they are coming into the game off a bye week as well.
Things got even worse for Tennessee this week when the September 15 arrest video of linebacker Jeremy Banks was released.
When it rains it pours at Tennessee.
Kirby Smart said this week that Tennessee was “on the brink of something special.”
That’s nice to hear if you are a Vols fan, but I don’t know many that believe he is correct.
Fearless Prediction time…
Georgia 42, Tennessee 7
Mark’s 2019 Fearless Prediction Record: 2-2
Mark Nagi is the author of “Decade of Dysfunction,” an in-depth look at all that led to the crazy coaching search of 2017 at Tennessee. The book is available on Amazon.