The Georgia Bulldogs and Tennessee Volunteers will square off on Saturday in Knoxville, Tenn. with the victor setting itself up nicely for a possible run to the SEC Championship Game. The Bulldogs (3-2, 2-1 SEC) are riding high, coming into Saturday's game on a three-game win streak. The Volunteers (3-1, 0-1 SEC) were able to rebound last week and post a 41-10 win over Buffalo after losing their first game of the season the week prior to the Florida Gators. Both teams are seeking to improve their spots in the SEC East divisional race. Georgia is in a three-way tie for first with Florida and South Carolina at 2-1 in league play, while Tennessee has only played one conference game, its 33-23 loss to the Gators on Sep. 17 in Gainesville. The Volunteers get the chance to level their SEC record inside the friendly confines of Neyland Stadium, which has been a house of horrors for Georgia in its last two visits, suffering losses both times. On the bright side, the Bulldogs still own a winning record in Knoxville since head coach Mark Richt took over in 2001, carding victories in 2001, 2003 and 2005. In 10 career meetings with the Volunteers under Richt, the Bulldogs own a 6-4 edge. Tennessee gets the nod in the all-time series, however, owning a 21-17-2 mark against Georgia. The biggest number to come out of Saturday's game may be 100 — which would be the number of victories in Richt's head coaching career at Georgia if the Bulldogs can leave Knoxville with a 'W.' And in a twist, the victory would come against the son of legendary Georgia coach Vince Dooley, the Bulldogs' winningest coach.
Here are a few things to know about the Volunteers before the Bulldogs head to Knoxville this Saturday:
- 26-28 overall (.481 winning percentage) — has coached at Louisiana Tech and Tennessee
- 9-8 at Tennessee (.529 winning percentage)
- 0-1 versus Georgia all-time
Interesting fact: Dooley became only the eighth Tennessee head coach to start off his second season with the Vols 2-0 after beating Cincinnati 45-23 on Sep. 10. The last Tennessee head coach to accomplish the feat was Bowden Wyatt in 1956.
2010 SEASON: 6-7 overall, 3-5 SEC
- Lost back-to-back games at home to top-10 opponents Oregon (48-13) and Florida (31-17) on Sep. 11 and Sep. 18, respectively
- Lost four consecutive games — LSU, Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina — to drop record to 2-6 overall, 0-5 in SEC play
- Rallied to pick up four consecutive wins to close out regular season, beating Memphis, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Kentucky
- Lost to North Carolina 30-27 in double-overtime in the Music City Bowl
2011 SEASON: 3-1 overall, 0-1 SEC
Last week: Tennessee did exactly what should be expected of it when playing a Mid-American Conference foe: it won big. The Volunteers ran all over the Bulls in their 41-10 beatdown, led by starting quarterback Tyler Bray's 342 yards passing and 4 TDs. Wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers had a career-high 180 yards receiving and caught a touchdown for the fifth consecutive game, just one short of tying a school-record. Fellow receiver DeAnthony Arnett only had 3 receptions, but two went for touchdowns. Vols tailback Tauren Poole had 101 yards rushing but no touchdowns -- not that Tennessee needed any more points give the way the defense played. Strongside linebacker Curt Maggitt was tops on the team in tackles, notching against the Bulls. Tying Maggitt in tackles was weakside linebacker and Georgia product A.J. Johnson -- who graduated from Gainesville High School -- while also forcing a fumble and recovering one as well. Even the Vols specialists had a good day, though they were not called on to do much. Freshman placekicker Michael Palardy went 2-for-2 on field goal attempts, both from 28 yards out.
On whether the addition of Texas A&M to the conference will open the state up for more recruiting from SEC schools: "Time will tell. What it will do that's factual is that it'll give a lot more exposure to our league in that state. I've been recruiting Texas for my whole coaching career, and even when I was at LSU, that was probably the hardest part of it — you just didn't get a lot of exposure. It was all Big 12 [Conference]... We hope it helps, but we also know that it makes it more challenging, because now you've gotta go beat the home school, and that's always tough. So I think there is some positives in the exposure, but the negative is, of course, now we have a team in the league, so if you have a Texas kid that wants to go to the SEC, he's got a good option in state. "
On Volunteer wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers' controversial recruitment: "We came in and we had to scramble the last two weeks, so we were very fortunate those last two weeks that we got not just Da'Rick, but Justin Hunter, and that kind of forged the future of our receiving corps. Everybody is making a big story out of it, but for every one of those we get in Georgia, we lose about five others that we want. That's just part of recruiting. We were fortunate to get Da'Rick. We're glad he's with us, and he's showing a lot of improvement in a lot of things. We hope he continues to perform the way he's been performing."
On the wide-open nature of the SEC East at the moment: "It looks just the way everybody sees it. I think the last thing we need to be talking about is Atlanta. We need to go win a conference game. To me, it's not 'title-town' right now. [It's] title down the stretch. That's when you really start looking at the numbers. Right now it's week-to-week. We've got a great opponent in Georgia. They whipped us good last year. We just need to worry about beating Georgia and all of that other stuff will take care of itself."
On how relieved he is that there are fewer questions about his family this year heading into Saturday's game with Georgia: "I still get asked, and they want me to talk, but I'm just trying to keep the focus on the players."