ATHENS — Georgia is favored to end the longest active Power 5 win streak in college football at 3:30 p.m. next Saturday, and the Bulldogs are expected to do so decisively.
Georgia has opened as a 14-point favorite over Tennessee, winner of 8 straight games dating back to a 35-13 loss to then-No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa last season.
The No. 3-ranked Bulldogs (2-0) are coming off a 27-6 win over Auburn (1-1), which dropped from No 7 in the AP Poll to No. 13.
The No. 14-ranked Vols (2-0) beat Missouri handily in Neyland Stadium last Saturday, scoring a 35-12 victory over the Tigers.
The relationship between Tennessee and Georgia has been well-documented as muddied, of late, on account of transfer Cade Mays.
The former Bulldogs’ player hired a lawyer who hurled unfavorable accusations at the UGA players’ and coaches’ culture.
The SEC office recently granted a blanket waiver for all in-conference transfers regardless of the validity of the details of their claims.
In doing so, SEC league presidents voted to change policy just one game into the season on account of the unique circumstances brought about by COVID-19.
The harsh allegations and attack on the Bulldogs’ culture, however, has not been forgotten in the team locker room.
Further, Georgia coach Kirby Smart takes all of the rivalries personal.
But where Tennessee is concerned it’s worth noting Smart never beat the Vols or current UT AD (then-coach) Phillip Fulmer as a player during his career with the Bulldogs.
Smart has had considerably more success against Tennessee as a head coach, winning the past three meetings dating back to a 34-31 loss against former Vols coach Butch Jones in 2016.
Jeremy Pruitt is in his third year as head coach at Tennessee, taking the job on the heels of serving as the defensive coordinator for the 2017 Alabama team that beat Smart and the Bulldogs in the national championship game.
It was his second stint at Alabama, as Pruitt worked on the same Tide staff under Nick Saban as Kirby Smart from 2007-2012.
Interestingly enough, Pruitt also spent two seasons at Georgia under Mark Richt (2014-15) prior to Smart getting the Bulldogs’ head coaching job in 2016.
Pruitt has something to prove, too.
Fulmer, his boss, made it clear when Pruitt was hired that the standards have not changed for Tennessee coaches.
They are ultimately judged on how they fare against rivals Alabama, Florida and Georgia, and Pruitt has gone winless against that trio his first two seasons.
Tennessee also features former Georgia offensive coordinator Jim Chaney (2016-18) and former UGA offensive line coach Will Friend (2011-14).
Notre Dame also has an 8-game win streak and is playing in the ACC this season. The Irish’s streak, however, dates back to last season when it was playing as an FBS Independent.
SEC football games
Kentucky -3 at home versus Mississippi State
Georgia -14 at home vs. Tennessee
Alabama -23 at Ole Miss
Auburn -18 at home vs. Arkansas
LSU -18 at home vs. Missouri
Florida -7 at Texas A&M
South Carolina -12 at Vanderbilt
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