(Photo: Crystal LoGiudice, USA TODAY Sports)
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — There would be no frantic finishes or dramatic comebacks in the latest edition of the Georgia-Tennessee rivalry.
The eighth-ranked Bulldogs made sure of it.
Jake Fromm threw a touchdown pass and ran for two more scores Saturday as No. 8 Georgia rolled to a 41-0 blowout of Tennessee. The Volunteers were shut out for the first time since 1994 and suffered their most one-sided home loss since 1905.
Nick Chubb added 109 yards rushing to help Georgia race to its first 5-0 start since 2012, the last year the Bulldogs reached the Southeastern Conference championship game. Georgia earned its 800th win in program history.
“Keep chopping wood and let’s get some more,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said.
Before Saturday, none of the last six games in this series had been decided by more than eight points, including Tennessee’s 34-31 victory last season on a Hail Mary as time expired. Each of the last three years, the winning team had erased a double-digit deficit.
But Georgia took the suspense out of this one early. Georgia grabbed a 24-0 halftime lead and never allowed Tennessee to rally.
“You can’t let your foot off their throat,” Georgia outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter said.
Tennessee (3-2, 0-2) hadn’t been shut out since a 31-0 loss to Florida in 1994. Georgia forced four turnovers, allowed just 142 total yards and limited SEC rushing leader John Kelly to 44 yards on 16 carries.
This marked Tennessee’s most lopsided home defeat since a 45-0 loss to Vanderbilt in 1905. Tennessee also lost 68-0 at home to Sewanee in 1918, but the school suspended varsity football that season due to World War I and only had an unofficial team made up of Army recruits and students.
“It was as bad of an offensive performance as I’ve ever been a part of,” Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. “It’s inexcusable.”
The Bulldogs got more good news in the fourth quarter when quarterback Jacob Eason made his first appearance since spraining his left knee in the season opener.
Fromm was 7 of 15 for 84 yards with an interception and a 12-yard touchdown pass to Javon Wims . He also rushed for 20 yards, including second-quarter touchdown runs from 9 and 4 yards out, before giving way to Eason with the game well in hand.
The game’s first play from scrimmage set the tone for the rest of the day. Georgia’s Tyrique McGhee picked off Quinten Dormady’s pass at Tennessee’s 27-yard line to set up Rodrigo Blankenship’s 38-yard field goal.
That started a tough afternoon for Dormady, who was 5 of 16 for 64 yards with two interceptions before Jarrett Guarantano replaced him late in the third quarter.
Tennessee’s best scoring chance vanished when a shotgun snap from center Jashon Robertson appeared to hit his rear end and came in low to Dormady, who couldn’t handle it. Carter recovered the second-quarter fumble at Georgia’s 29.
Even Tennessee’s biggest gain of the afternoon resulted in a turnover, as Aaron Davis forced a fumble by Kelly that J.R. Reed recovered at the end of a 44-yard completion.
It was such a bad day for Tennessee that punter Trevor Daniel, one of the Vols’ most effective players this season, had a rare misstep . Daniel’s low punt early in the fourth quarter went off the face of Georgia’s D’Andre Walker to set up the Bulldogs’ final touchdown.
Tennessee’s Darrell Taylor was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct and ejected from the game on Georgia’s final touchdown drive.
“Everyone should hurt,” Jones said. “If it doesn’t hurt, then that shows you’re not heavily invested. If you’re invested, you hurt. This one stings. It’s going to take a while. Like I told them, if you don’t feel like coming to practice, you better remember how you feel right now. And if that’s not motivation, I don’t know what is.”
Georgia: Now that Eason has returned to action, Georgia must decide how to use its quarterbacks the rest of the way. Fromm has played well enough that Smart could have quite a dilemma on his hands once Eason’s back at full strength.
Tennessee: The Vols have plenty of questions to answer in their bye week. They need to decide whether to stick with Dormady or give Guarantano more playing time. If Dormady keeps the job, he must do better at avoiding turnovers. Tennessee also needs more consistency from its offensive line, which hasn’t created enough running room.
Tennessee honored former Vols quarterback Peyton Manning during a halftime ceremony to celebrate his upcoming College Football Hall of Fame induction. As Manning started to walk off the field, he completed a pass to former Tennessee teammate Joey Kent in the end zone.
It was just about the only chance the sellout crowd of 102,455 had to cheer all day.
Georgia’s lopsided victory gives the Bulldogs a decent shot at moving into the top five.
Georgia is at Vanderbilt.
Tennessee has next week off before hosting South Carolina on Oct. 14.
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