ATHENS — Georgia senior linebacker Juwan Taylor says he’ll never forget it.
The last time Tennessee played between the hedges, Alpharetta product Josh Dobbs connected on a 43-yard Hail Mary with Jauan Jennings to give the Vols a come-from-behind 34-31 win over Georgia.
“You never forget that,” Taylor said on Monday, recalling the 2016 meeting. “No one who was there, to experience that, would ever forget that, and I’m gonna make sure it doesn’t come down to that again.”
The No. 2-ranked Bulldogs (4-0, 2-0 SEC) play host to the Vols (2-2, 0-1) at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at Sanford Stadium (TV: CBS; Radio: WSB 95.5 FM, 750 AM).
Georgia is a heavy favorite in the game, but senior center Lamont Gaillard said the Bulldogs learned from the Hail Mary defeat not to assume anything.
“[We learned] not to take anything lightly, always play four quarters, to the last whistle,” Gaillard said Monday, “that’s what we focus on here.
“We definitely don’t want that to happen again, especially at home, and definitely not to Tennessee or anyone else we play, but we won’t let it happen if we prepare right.”
Dobbs has moved on to the NFL and the Vols’ current quarterbacks don’t appear as formidable, but Jennings will be back along with a capable stable of runners.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart said he’s making sure his players know to expect a tough, physical game from Tennessee.
“This is one of the exciting rivalries in college football, when you look over the last six or seven years, there’s been some really tight ballgames,” Smart said. “We’ve had some really exciting ball games some I watched from afar, and some I’ve been a part of.”
Indeed, the 2015 Georgia-Tennessee game was another thriller.
Dobbs and the Vols came from 24-3 down against a Jeremy Pruitt-coached Bulldogs’ defense to win 38-31 with 519 total yards.
Pruitt left Georgia after that 2015 season and helped Alabama reach the 2016 College Football Playoff title game in 2016 and win it in 2017 after being named Tennessee’s new head coach.
The Bulldogs beat the Vols 41-0 last season, handing Tennessee its most lopsided defeat in Neyland Stadium history.