For a second straight season Tennessee (2-2, 0-1 SEC) gave No. 12 Georgia (3-1, 1-1 SEC) just about everything it could handle. Unfortunately for the Vols, they do not have a Todd Gurley. The Georgia running back being thrown in the Heisman conversation proved once again just how important he is to the Bulldogs offense. Gurley rushed for 208 yards and two touchdowns to help Georgia stay just far enough ahead of the upset-minded Vols in a 35-32 victory.
Gurley averaged 7.4 yards per rushing attempt to wear down Tennessee’s defense. In addition to his rushing total, Gurley added 30 receiving yards and four catches and 47 kick return yards on two attempts. He continues to be capable of doing a little bit of everything for Georgia, and he needed to do just that in this one. Hutson Mason was intercepted twice by Tennessee and the Vols put together 401 yards of offense. This Tennessee team is not going to go away quietly in the SEC East this season, that much has to be known about this team early on.
Butch Davis pulled out all the stops he could in this game. Tennessee jumped out to a 10-0 lead early on but Tennessee showed signs of still growing and maturing along the way by seeing that lead evaporate before the half. In the second half, Georgia looked to land a couple of potential knockout blows, but Tennessee made like Rocky and battled back before running out of time and steam to slow down Gurley.
In the end, Georgia rebounded in SEC play after being edged by South Carolina a couple of weeks ago. South Carolina and Missouri will play later, but Georgia avoided digging a hole of 0-2 in the SEC East. The rest of the SEC schedule has some challenges along the way for Georgia. The Bulldogs still must play at Missouri and Arkansas (both unranked this week but not to be overlooked by any stretch of the imagination) and Georgia will later host Auburn. Nobody appears ready to run away with the SEC East, so Georgia scoring a win against Tennessee is rather significant.
Butch Jones has Tennessee heading in the right direction though.Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley took a beating but played through it all to throw for 264 yards and three touchdowns. It will not be long before the Vols are looking more and more like a contender in the SEC East and then the SEC if the program continues on this path and starts picking up a key win. That can start next week against Florida. The Vols host the Gators next week in an early kickoff game.