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Tennessee vs. Georgia Prediction: Picks, betting odds, analysis, more

 Billy Jones   in Football

Georgia’s defense continues to dominate opponents as coach Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs have risen to the No. 1 ranking. They will face a tough test in Knoxville as an intimidating atmosphere, and up-tempo offense could give Georgia some trouble.

A win on Saturday for the Volunteers could give Josh Heupel a jumpstart as he looks to rebuild the Tennessee football program.

When Georgia has the ball

Georgia’s offense has been asked to do one thing well this year:be efficient. Due to the defense’s dominance, quarterback Stetson Bennett IV and his offense have been able to throw the ball only when they want and maintain pretty good control of the game.

While Tennessee’s defense has been inconsistent, the crowd will greatly hinder Georgia’s offense on Saturday. Due to its reliance on a pro-style scheme that uses complex schemes, lacking communication could become a big issue for the Georgia offense on Saturday.

If Tennessee’s offense can score, it can put tremendous pressure on Georgia’s offense to execute when needed. Smart has been displeased with the offense's red zone efficiency.

He feels the team needs to be able to “run the ball stubbornly.” Kirby knows how much a strong running game can help an offense but has been thus far disappointed by his team’s running game when the defense brings an extra player or two into the box.

Saturday could help Kirby feel more confident down the stretch if his offense can show this running ability.

At first glance, Tennessee’s giving up 42 points to Kentucky may seem like a disastrous performance. While the game was certainly nothing to be too proud of for the Volunteers' defense, they faced 99 plays, with Kentucky having the ball for over 45 minutes.

Tennessee’s lighting-quick offense can have negative effects, and much of that falls on the defense. With the difference between a scoring drive and a three and out being negligible, the Vols defense is under significant stress.

Many will be anxious to see how winded the defense will still be after how much they were on the field against Kentucky. Heupel seems unconcerned as he said, “You are only worried about the time of possession when it matters: running down the clock at the end of the game.”

It seems likely that the defensive players would not be as bullish on this attitude; however, Tennessee will need to go as fast as possible on Saturday and hope that their defense can hold up on the other end.

When Tennessee has the ball

Heupel has had relative success in implementing his high-tempo offense with quarterback Hendon Hooker at the helm. Of course, Saturday will bring a whole new test with the top defense in the country on the other side of the ball.

Tennessee’s offense looked sputtering after failing to score 30 against both Alabama and Ole Miss, but its 45 points on just 48 plays against Kentucky showed how potent it could be.

Much of this success was due to guys like Velus Jones Jr. and Cedric Tillman consistently breaking tackles. The Georgia defensive backfield will have to tackle well to contain Tennessee’s offense.

Smart clearly has a lot of respect for what the Tennessee offense can do, as he emphasized how hard it is to simulate. Its unique tempo will put a lot of stress on his defensive line that has been so dominant all year.

He also emphasized how complementary your football has to be to beat a team like Tennessee. This part of Georgia has not been tested yet, which could mean Saturday will be a big chance for the Georgia offense and special teams to step up.

Smart criticized his team's missed tackles and missed assignments in last week’s game, both of which will be heavily exposed against a spread time like Tennessee if the Bulldogs cannot get those things fixed.

The opening quarter of this game will be hugely important. If Tennessee can get into an offensive rhythm, it could make this game very interesting; however, early stops and scores for Georgia could quickly turn things. 

Tennessee vs. Georgia Prediction

Nick Cole and Christopher Smith share their Tennessee vs. Georgia prediction and betting picks for Week 11 of the 2021 college football season.