Top Ranked Georgia Takes Down Tennessee 41-17
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Georgia Bulldogs are ranked No. 1 and just finished off a perfect run through the Southeastern Conference schedule.
They’re not satisfied yet.
Stetson Bennett ran for a touchdown and threw for another as Georgia routed Tennessee 41-17 Saturday.
The Bulldogs (10-0, 8-0, No. 1 CFP) went unbeaten in the SEC regular season for the first time since the league split into divisions in 1992 and went to an eight-game schedule.
“Nobody thinks they’ve arrived,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “There’s things we can continue to work to get better at, and they’ll continue to do that. But tonight? They went through a tough gauntlet in our league and played well.”
Georgia already had its fourth berth in the SEC championship game in five years locked up coming into this game. The Bulldogs last went undefeated in league play in 1982 with a 6-0 mark, also the last time the Bulldogs started 10-0.
“I mean 39 years, I mean it’s special …” Bennett said.
The Bulldogs actually trailed by their largest margin this season after Tennessee scored a touchdown on the opening drive. Georgia also was down 10-7 at the end of the first quarter, new territory for the Bulldogs, who had only trailed by a field goal each to Auburn and Missouri.
Georgia responded by reeling off 27 straight points, including 17 in a dominating second quarter. Derion Kendrick intercepted a pass by Hendon Hooker, and Channing Tindall stripped Hooker of the ball — Tindall had three of Georgia’s six sacks.
“We didn’t come up here to take shots,” Smart said. “We came up here to throw them.”
Bennett converted the interception into a 9-yard TD run midway through the second, and he capped a 90-yard drive with a 23-yard TD pass to James Cook just before halftime. Cook also ran 10 times and matched his career high with 104 yards and two more TDs. Stetson finished with 213 yards passing and ran for 40 more.
Tennessee (5-5, 3-4) had five-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning, former All-Star first baseman Todd Helton and WNBA champ Candace Parker on hand along with an announced crowd of 100,074 for a team coming off a win at Kentucky, its first upset of a Top 20 team on the road since 2006.
The Vols’ biggest win in this game came in with 3:38 left before lots of empty seats. Joe Milton hit Cedric Tillman on a 12-yard TD, giving Tennessee the most points scored against Georgia in a game this season.
“Me personally, just knowing how hard I am on myself and how much of a standard I hold for this defense, I’m not happy about that touchdown, Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean said.
Tennessee came in second in the Bowl Subdivision scoring an average of 1.59 points per minute. Georgia and the stingiest scoring defense, which had allowed 6.6 points a game, simply smothered the Vols. The Bulldogs held Tennessee to 9 yards total offense in the second quarter.
“You’ve got to make some plays to give yourself a chance to play it to the end,” first-year Tennessee coach Josh Heupel said. “Red zone wasn’t good enough. Losing the turnover (battle) 2-0 hurt.”