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ESPN puts Georgia on upset alert against Tennessee

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Can the Vols compete this year with Georgia?

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

You likely won’t be seeing Tennessee appear in any top 25 preseason polls this summer, but they did appear in on one list from ESPN. In their ‘Games to beware of’ article, Tennessee was listed as someone that Georgia needs to look out for.

The Vols will welcome the currently No. 3 Bulldogs to Neyland Stadium on October 5th. Here’s what ESPN’s Alex Scarborough had to say on the matchup.

3. Georgia: Oct. 5 at Tennessee

The Bulldogs might be feeling pretty good about themselves heading into an Oct. 5 trip to Tennessee. Assuming they handle their business against Vanderbilt, Murray State and Arkansas State, and assuming they win a tough nonconference game against Notre Dame, they’ll likely be ranked in the top three. But coming out of that stretch and the bye week that follows could have Kirby Smart’s squad feeling too good about themselves. Though it’s going to be easy to overlook Tennessee, which Georgia beat 38-12 last season, don’t discount the motivation that loss will provide Jeremy Pruitt’s upstart Vols, who return their starting quarterback Jarrett Guarantano. -- Scarborough

Both teams will be coming off of bye weeks ahead of this game.

Tennessee gave Georgia a decent game last year in Athens, sitting within 12 points in the fourth quarter. If not for an outrageous break for Georgia on a sack-fumble-touchdown early in that one, the game could have been even more competitive. Eventually, the mistakes piled up on the road late for the Vols and Georgia pulled away for a 38-12 win.

In the year before, Georgia shut out Tennessee for a 41-0 victory in Neyland, as Butch Jones’ program continued to crumble.

Is Tennessee ready to compete with Georgia? On paper, absolutely not. But can Tennessee sneak up on some teams this year? There’s no reason not to think so. Jeremy Pruitt’s year one team put up wins over two top 25 teams, Kentucky and Auburn.

Once again, as we’ve said all offseason, the key is offensive line play and Jarrett Guarantano — and the two go hand in hand. If five-star tackles Wanya Morris and Darnell Wright can walk in an upgrade this offensive line from day one, Tennessee should be in position to pick up a couple unexpected wins in 2019.