The No. 8 Bulldogs thrashed No. 13 Tennessee 41-14 on Saturday in
front of 107,517 in the Volunteers' Neyland Stadium.
"I thought that Clemson score (30-0) was outrageous, but this is a
great score," senior cornerback Bruce Thornton said.
It was Georgia's fourth straight victory over Tennessee and its
biggest since a 44-0 win in 1981.
"We want to let everyone know the tide has turned," safety
Thomas Davis said.
The Bulldogs improved to 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the SEC and moved one
game ahead of the Vols for first place in the division. Georgia could
lose one more conference game, provided its not to Florida, and still be
guaranteed a trip to the SEC Championship Game.
"It feels good to be in the driver's seat," Monticello
Odell Thurman said.
It was Tennessee's worst home loss since a 31-0 defeat against Florida
in 1994. The Vols, who haven't won a conference title since its 1998
national championship season, fell to 4-2 overall and 2-2 in the SEC.
Tennessee isn't out of the picture, yet, though. Their remaining league
schedule consists only of Alabama, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt.
On a day dubbed by ESPN as "Separation Saturday," the Bulldogs
away a big winner. The three teams directly in front of them in the
Associated Press Top 25 -- No. 5 Florida State, No. 6 LSU and No. 7
Arkansas -- and No. 3 Ohio State all lost.
"It just shows this program has came a long way, a long way,"
Damien Gary said.
Georgia outgained Tennessee 414 to 248 and held the Vols to 61 rushing
yards on 27 carries.
"We really felt confident going in that we could stop their running
game, and we just had to see if the could throw against us," defensive
coordinator Brian VanGorder said.
Tennessee quarterback Casey Clausen, who will finish his career
winless against the Bulldogs, was 11 of 23 for 165 yards and was picked
off two times to go along with the Volunteers' two fumbles.
Sean Jones led Georgia with seven tackles and had a game-changing
92-yard fumble return for a touchdown, but defensive end David Pollack
was the biggest force in the second half. He finished with six tackles,
two sacks and three tackles-for-loss.
"We tried to do what we did last week and that's throw the ball, but
we couldn't block David Pollack," Volunteer offensive coordinator Randy
Sanders said. "He basically took over the game."
Georgia quarterback David Greene, who will finish his career 2-0 in
Knoxville, was 22 of 27 passing for 228 yards and one touchdown despite
playing less than three quarters.
"Offensively, without a doubt, it was our best football game,"
coach Mark Richt said.
Tennessee's only meaningful points of the game came on a fantastic
90-yard touchdown catch by Mark Jones, who wrestled away a ball it
appeared Decory Bryant had intercepted and scored with 13:14 left in the
first half to pull the Vols within three at 10-7.
The game was close until the final play of the half. Tennessee trailed
13-7 but had a third-and-goal from Georgia's 1-yard line with seven
seconds left in the half. However, when Clausen turned to hand the ball
to tailback Cedric Houston, the ball hit the leg of lead blocker Troy Fleming and bounced onto the ground.
Jones picked it up and ran 92 yards for a touchdown as time expired.
Billy Bennett's point after gave Georgia a 20-7 lead and momentum that
would only grow. It was one of four Volunteer turnovers and Georgia's
first fumble return for a touchdown since Cap Burnett had a 4-yard score
in the 2000 Oahu Bowl, Jim Donnan's last game.
"Fortunately the ball rolled around and there was green grass in
of me," Jones said.
"It was one of those great moments for a defense," VanGorder
After Tennessee went four-and-out on the first possession of the
second half, Georgia put together its most impressive drive of the
season, going 78 yards in 15 plays and going up 27-7 on a 6-yard
touchdown run by Michael Cooper with 9:09 left in the third quarter.
It was the first of the Bulldogs' 21 points in two minutes, 35 seconds
and the beginning of the end for Tennessee.
On the first play of the Vols' next drive, Pollack ran over tackle
Sean Young and hit Clausen, who threw a wobbly ball that was picked off
and returned to Tennessee's 5-yard line by Thurman.
Three plays later, running back Tyson Browning scored on an 8-yard
touchdown run to put Georgia ahead 34-7 with 7:36 left.
On the second play of Tennessee's next drive, defensive lineman Kedric Golston tipped a Clausen pass that was intercepted by fellow lineman
Robert Geathers at the Tennessee 22-yard line, setting off an ugly
First the Vols' Jabari Davis was flagged for a personal foul.
That set off a scrum between several players that led to Georgia
linebacker Derrick White being ejected from the game for throwing a
punch at Fleming.
"That kind of shows a team falling apart," Gary said.
The Bulldogs' offense seemed unfazed by the commotion and scored on
their first play, a 22-yard run by freshman running back Kregg Lumpkin
with 6:34 left in the quarter.
Georgia has two games it will be heavily favored to win, against
Vanderbilt and UAB, coming up next, but Richt was unwilling to discuss
anything but the obvious after Saturday's win.
"We're in good shape, but everybody is still in the race," he
"Right now we're just in the lead by one game. There's not a lot of
margin for error."