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Bulldogs vs. Tennessee Volunteers Pick.
Georgia Bulldogs (3-2, 1-4 ATS) at Tennessee Volunteers (2-3, 3-2 ATS)
Neyland Stadium Knoxville, T.N. Saturday October 10th, 12:21PM Eastern
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Pick’em
The Tennessee Volunteers host the Georgia Bulldogs in a classic SEC rivalry this Saturday from Neyland Stadium. These two tradition rich teams normally are more likely to both be 5-0 after 5 weeks of the season than to have just 5 wins combined. Both teams suffered disappointing losses last week and it will be interesting to see who bounces back this Saturday. Tennessee battled undefeated Auburn in a tough game before falling 26-22 and the Bulldogs lost a nail bitter to LSU 20-13.
The loss set the Volunteers back to 0-2 on the season in Lane Kiffin’s first year as head coach. The young team now is in a must win situation if they are to get the program headed in the right direction. Georgia is in a similar situation as they may be much better than their 3-2 record indicates. The Bulldogs lost to Oklahoma State in their opener, but have played fairly well since. The Bulldogs were a mere 46 seconds away from capturing the huge win over no. 4 LSU last week, but Tigers running back Charles Scott broke free to score the game winning touchdown with less than a minute to play. It is simply amazing how one play can affect your season. If the Bulldogs are to fall this week, they would be set back to just 3-3 on the season after starting year ranked inside the Top 15.
The Bulldogs surprisingly rank towards the bottom of the SEC on both offense and defense. The Bulldogs rank next to last in both scoring and total defense. Georgia has allowed nearly 28 points per game and 358 total yards. Those numbers are rather surprising considering all the playmakers they have on the field. QB Joe Cox has been fairly good, but has had a tendency to force the ball which has led to 6 picks on the season. Still, Cox has thrown for 1,208 yards with 11 touchdowns.
Cox has the luxury of throwing to WR A.J. Green who is the biggest playmaker on the Bulldogs roster. Green is a big sophomore who stands at 6’4 with even bigger talent. Green has scored 5 touchdowns and racked up 527 receptions yards. There is not any other receiver in the SEC that has produced over 350 yards just to indicate how well Green is playing. The future NFL lottery pick will make it difficult on the Tennessee secondary and perhaps can make a few more big plays like last week’s game against LSU (5 catches, 99 yards, 1 td) to allow the Bulldogs to bounce back with a win.
The Volunteers are about to embark on a tough 3 game stretch that includes Georgia this week followed by No. 3 Alabama and No. 25 South Carolina. Therefore, Tennessee must get a win this week or they could be starring at a possible 2-6 start which would cause all faith to be lost in Knoxville. Tennessee has been in every ball game they have played losing by a combined 18 points in their 3 losses. Those losses included their great battle with Florida where they played the Gators as good as any team has in the last year.
Running back Montario Hardesty leads the SEC with 575 rushing yards on the season. Hardesty has been brilliant gaining 5.5 yards per carry and scoring 5 touchdowns on the season. Considering how the Georgia defensive front has played, Hardesty should be able to continue giving Tennessee some success on the ground.
Still, the Volunteers need QB Jonathon Crompton to be more consistent. The senior quarterback has just not been able to keep from turning the ball over as he has 19 interceptions compared to just 22 touchdowns in his career in Knoxville. On the season, Crompton has thrown 8 picks which is most in the SEC. Crompton has also thrown 9 touchdowns this season, but the Volunteers need him to limit the bad passes.
Crompton completed his first game without an interception last week and it nearly allowed Tennessee to pull of a win against an Auburn Tigers team that is not getting the respect they deserve. Basically the Volunteers have played well, but just not well enough to win. If Crompton can keep from turning the ball over, it will give the defense a chance. The defense only allowed 26 points last week against Auburn who ranks 5th in the nation in offense. If they get pressure on Cox and somehow limit A.J Green’s playmaking ability, there is no reason not to expect a win for the Volunteers.
Jay’s Pick - The series has been split right down the middle at 3-3 in their last 6 meetings and this game is a toss up as well as the betting odds have the game listed at even for each team. Both teams need a win bad, but this is much more important for Tennessee at home and they should win a close one. Take the Volunteers to win and cover.