KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Georgia (10-0, 8-0, No. 1 CFP) has gone into the double-digits wins for this season as the Bulldogs remain undefeated following their 41-17 victory over the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday. Stetson Bennett ran for a touchdown and threw for another.
This was the Dawgs final Southeastern Conference game in the regular season and was the Volunteers' homecoming.
First-year coach Josh Heupel has put a premium on Tennessee making it difficult on the opponent in the first quarter and Saturday's game was no different. Tennessee has outscored opponents 138-37 in the first 15 minutes.
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.
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 for a season-high 104 yards and two more TDs.
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.
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.
The Bulldogs may not have turned in the dominating defensive performance they’ve become known for this season. But they proved they could power through with seven players reportedly sick enough to receive fluids intravenously before kickoff.
Georgia certainly didn’t hurt itself. Beating an SEC rival should be impressive enough to receive all first-place votes again.
Georgia is now 10-0 for the season and 8-0 in conference play. They were ranked No. 1 for the second week in a row on Tuesday in the College Football Playoffs poll and have topped the Associated Press Top 25 Poll for the past five weeks.
The Dawgs will host Charleston Southern next week and will finish off their regular season at Georgia Tech on Nov. 27.
They will head to Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Dec. 4 to play the SEC West Division winner in the SEC Championship Game. This will be Georgia's first appearance since 2019 and their 10th appearance overall.
The next day, the College Football Playoff committee is expected to release its selections.
The Associated Press contributed to this report