Back to the Peach Bowl?

ATHENS -- Tennessee linebacker Kevin Burnett has riled up Auburn fans and even a few Georgia fans with his comments this week, but his most painful jab may have unintentionally hit a teammate.

"There's no tomorrow," Kevin Burnett said of Saturday's game against the No. 3 Bulldogs. "Lose here, and we can forget about South Beach. We're going back to the Peach Bowl."

Jabari Davis, a former standout running back at Tucker High School, picked the Volunteers over the Bulldogs in a heated recruiting battle in 2001. At the time, he said one of the reasons is Tennessee players were talking about the Rose Bowl and Georgia players were talking about the Peach Bowl.

Georgia fans haven't forgiven him for the decision or the comment. "They hate me," he told the Chattanooga Times Free Press this week. "Ever since my senior year, when I committed here, I got phone calls, and my mailbox has been getting letters and notes. They'd be e-mailing my mom and dad, stuff like that. My freshman year, they had signs, my sophomore year they were still talking about me. It's real ignorant antics."

Even worse for Davis is the fact that Tennessee has been the team in the Peach Bowl for the last two seasons, and he and the rest of the Volunteer seniors are in danger of leaving Knoxville without a win over the Bulldogs.

Georgia defensive tackle Kedric Golston knows Davis and knows why he made the decision he did at the time.

"Nobody knew the success Coach (Mark) Richt would have," Golston said. "(Davis) made the safe decision, but things don't always work out like you want them to."

Georgia has won four straight in this rivalry after losing nine in a row from 1989 to 1999. Richt doesn't believe his streak against Tennessee has the same mental effect on the Vols that Florida's streak against Georgia has on the Bulldogs, he said.

"I don't know if it's been long enough for that," he said. "In the beginning, players just get more mad than anything. Right now, I'd guess they're in the mad stage."

The Georgia players on the roster certainly are tired of it. There are 10 Peach State natives on the Vols' roster, more than from any other state except Tennessee.

"It's been real tough," said Derrick Tinsley, who went to Marietta High School. "The master at my high school is a big alumni, and I went home last week and he was talking about how good Georgia was and how I should have stayed at Georgia, and all this and that. I like to go home and hear all that stuff because it pumps me up."

Warner Robins' Jason Respert said this week he couldn't believe he is already 0-4 against the Bulldogs thanks to a medical redshirt he received in 2001. And he knows Georgia must think it has the Volunteers' number.

"Beating us four years in a row, I would definitely say that," he said. "And the way we played last year... yeah, I would definitely think they think they have our number. What was it, 41-14? That's pretty bad. That's embarrassing."

Even running back Gerald Riggs, who grew up in Chattanooga, near the Georgia state line, shares that feeling.

"When I go back home, I hear a lot of it," he said. "It means a lot to me, just like it does to the guys who actually played high school ball in Georgia. I want to win this game probably a lot more than a lot of people think I do."

Up Next


Tweets