Tennessee's tough schedule doesn't get any easier this week. After travelling west to face Big 12 favorite Oklahoma, the Vols head to Athens for a showdown with Heisman contender Todd Gurley and the Georgia Bulldogs, who will certainly be looking to score a valuable SEC East win after dropping their September 13 game against South Carolina. Tennessee has defended the run pretty well, surrendering 387 yards on 100 rushes through three games, but the Vols defense will face a whole new level of rushing attack with Georgia. The Bulldogs have a bona fide superstar in Todd Gurley, and capable backups in freshmen Sony Michel, who had a breakout game against Troy, and Nick Chubb.
If Tennessee can shut down the Bulldogs' prodigious rushing attack, and put the game on the arm of Hutson Mason, things could get interesting between the hedges. We wouldn't bet on that happening though.
Date: Saturday, Sep. 27
Time: 12:00 p.m. ET
Location: Sanford Stadium (Athens, GA)
Betting Line: Georgia -17 via 5Dimes
Prediction: Georgia is a strong favorite, especially at home, although 17 points against a team with as much talent as Tennessee is a big spread to cover. Of course, much of the Vols' talent is young and unproven, but Tennessee's rush defense probably looks a bit better after this past weekend's Oklahoma game, in which freshman Samaje Perine exploded for 242 yards and four touchdowns. The Vols held him to 67 yards, although he did average over seven per carry.
If Tennessee can have a similar performance against Gurley, Michel, and Chubb, the Vols have a great chance of keeping things respectable here. Hutson Mason, Georgia's quarterback, has been solid, but he hasn't had to carry the team in its wins. He is yet to eclipse 200 yards in the air, and his longest completion of the year is 39 yards.
We like Georgia to win the game fairly comfortably, but we'll take Tennessee to cover the 17 point spread here, although if Gurley starts to gash the Vols for huge gains, things could certainly get out of hand for Tennessee at Sanford Stadium.