FOOTBALL PREVIEW: #1 Tennessee visits #3 Georgia for Titanic Clash

 Photo Credit: Kate Luffman/Tennessee Athletics
By Chris Clark

ATHENS, Ga. – For the first time in college football history the number one team in the nation is set to play the number one team in the nation when the Tennessee Volunteers take on the defending champion Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday at Sanford Stadium.

The Vols were announced as the number one team in the 2022 initial College Football Playoff rankings earlier this week while the Dawgs have been at or near the top the entirety of the season. All that has setup quite the matchup of undefeated teams down in Athens.

Tennessee is coming off a thrashing they gave then-No. 19 Kentucky winning by a margin of 44-6. The game started off slow for the Vols who led by only a point at the end of the first quarter but things turned around quickly. Heisman frontrunner Hendon Hooker passed for 245 yards and 3 touchdowns while the Vols run game also had a productive day on the field rushing for over 150 yards combined. Two of those touchdowns from Hooker were to Jalin Hyatt, who set a new school touchdown reception record and has been a matchup nightmare for any defense he’s faced so far this season.

Georgia is fresh off a victory down in the Sunshine State as the Bulldogs easily handled the Florida Gators last week, 42-20, down in Jacksonville. Florida tested the Georgia defense early but the Bulldogs were able to get two big rushing touchdowns toward the end to fend off the Gators. It was only one of a few games where Georgia has been tested down the stretch. The Bulldogs will certainly expect that to be the case versus the team trying to take their top rank away.

This was a game where Georgia was supposed to be the No. 1 team hosting the No. 3 team but with the release of the first CFP rankings that has now flip-flopped. The Vols have been seemingly unstoppable on offense and their defense has continued to improve week after week. The Bulldog defense is well touted despite losing star after star to the NFL after their championship season last year. The offense, led by national championship game MVP, Stetson Bennett, has been good enough to allow their defense to keep opponents distant on the scoreboard.

The tight ends for the Dawgs could prove to be difficult for the Tennessee defense to contain. Statistically, the Vols are a defense that struggles in that department and if Georgia wins you can bet players like Darnell Washington will be difference-makers. For the Vols, their offense is their bread and butter and is what could give Georgia the biggest problems. The Bulldogs just lost starting linebacker Nolan Smith during the Florida game to a season-ending pectoral injury. It will have to be next man up for their defense if they want to minimize the damage and try to keep Tennessee off the scoreboard as much as possible.

Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. on CBS.