In what was supposed to be college football’s game of the year, No. 1 Georgia left no doubt as the best team in the nation with a dominating 27-13 loss to No. 3 Tennessee.
The game was billed as a showdown between the Volunteers’ explosive offense that led the nation in points and yards per game and the Bulldogs’ elite defense that ranks among the best in the nation.
It wasn’t close.
The Georgia defense held the Volunteers, who were averaging 49.4 points and 553 yards per game, without a touchdown until less than five minutes remained in the fourth quarter.
Harassed by a ferocious pass rush and limited by close coverage from the Bulldogs’ secondary, Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker, a top contender for the Heisman Trophy, completed just 23 of 33 passes for 195 yards. with an interception. His record streak of 20 consecutive games with a touchdown pass was broken.
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Stetson Bennett threw for 257 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score to lead Georgia’s offense that was on cruise control in the second half.
Georgia defeated Tennessee 389-289.
The landslide victory comes after the defending champion Bulldogs were ranked No. 3 in the initial college football playoff standings, behind Tennessee and Ohio State. Georgia should undoubtedly be No. 1 next week.
The game was largely over at halftime. Only 10 combined points were scored in the second half as rain fell everywhere after dry conditions in the first 30 minutes.
Georgia dominated the first quarter after Tennessee scored the opening goal on a 47-yard field goal from Chase McGrath after a fumble recovery in midfield.
Bennett hit Arian Smith for a 52-yard gain on ensuing possession, then went 13 yards for a touchdown. After a punt pinned the Volunteers deep in their territory, the Bulldogs forced a three and out. Taking advantage of a short field, Bennett hit Ladd McConkey for a 43-yard touchdown on the first play from the drive.
The lead would increase to 21-3 when a 49-yard pass to Kenny McIntosh allowed Bennett to throw 5 yards to Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint for his second halftime touchdown pass and third total score.
The teams then traded field goals with Georgia leading 24-6 at intermission.