ATHENS — Georgia football has opened as a startling 17-point favorite over red-hot Georgia Tech in next Saturday’s noon game at Sanford Stadium, according to

The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs (10-1) won last season’s rivalry game in Atlanta, 38-7, but the stingy Yellow Jackets have won the past two meetings in Athens 28-27 and 30-24 in overtime.

Georgia Tech has won four consecutive games, knocking off Virginia Tech (49-28), North Carolina (38-28), Miami (27-21) and Virginia (30-27, OT) in order.

It’s a game Georgia can’t afford to slip up in, as the Bulldogs are chasing a College Football Playoff berth. Georgia has already clinched a spot in the SEC Championship Game at 4 p.m. on Dec. 1 against Alabama in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

A loss to Georgia Tech, however, could render an upset win over the Crimson Tide in the league title game meaningless.

The Yellow Jackets lead the nation with 353.7 yards per game rushing — an area where the Bulldogs’ defense has been somewhat susceptible.

Things grew even more concerning for Georgia when sophomore starting inside linebacker Monty Rice suffered a freak injury during warmups on Saturday.

Rice did not play in the Bulldogs’ 66-27 win over UMass, and Georgia surrendered 125 yards rushing in the first half rushing before the Minutemen shifted into catch-up mode for the second half.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart said he was uncertain of the status of Rice, along with offensive guards Cade Mays and Kendall Baker, both of whom did not dress last Saturday.

Other SEC games

(according to

Mississippi State -9.5 at Ole Miss

Arkansas at Missouri -20.5

Kentucky -17.5 at Louisville

South Carolina at Clemson -25

Tennessee at Vanderbilt (TBA)

Florida -4 at Florida State

LSU at Texas A&M -1

Auburn at Alabama -24