After showing promise by forcing a fumble and getting a field goal on the opening drive, Tennessee football wasn’t able to hang with the Georgia Bulldogs the rest of the way. The Vols fell 27-13 in Athens, Ga., between the hedges Saturday. UGA jumped out to a 21-3 lead after that field goal and dominated.
UT came into the game ranked No. 1 in the College Football Playoff, tied for No. 2 in the AP Poll and No. 3 in the Coaches Poll. Georgia was No. 3 in the CFP and No. 1 in the AP and Coaches Poll. They led 24-6 at halftime and then just ran clock as much as possible in the second half.
With the win, UGA improves to 9-0 and 6-0 in the SEC. They visit the Kentucky Wildcats and Mississippi State Bulldogs over the next two weeks. Tennessee football falls to 8-1 and 5-1 in the SEC with a visit from the Missouri Tigers set for next week. Here are five takeaways from the Vols’ first loss of the year.
5. Third downs allowed Georgia to control the tempo.
Both teams came into this game top 20 in third down conversions and third down defense. Well, it was pretty clear who would win that aspect of the game with the two teams facing each other. Georgia was 7-of-12 on third downs, and the Vols were 2-of-14 on third downs. That tells you the story of the game.
This led to UGA controlling the tempo. The Vols like to turn up the heat and score quick. Georgia milks the clock, keeps defenses on the field and limits your possessions. They won with that style. Ironically, time of possession was close, as they had the ball for 31 minutes, while the Vols had it for 29 minutes.
Georgia was letting Tennessee football move the ball between the 20s, but once they approached the red zone, they tightened up, and the Vols couldn’t deal with it. That was another part of them controlling the tempo, as UT’s inability to score quickly created a problem on its own.