In the past when Tennessee showed up on Georgia‚Äôs schedule, there was no need to build up the opponent.
The Volunteers were a top-20 foe in each of Mark Richt‚Äôs first six seasons at Georgia.
But when they visit Athens this Saturday, they are unranked and come for a 3:30 p.m. CBS game that could be dangerous for the Bulldogs. It is sandwiched between a rout over Vanderbilt that Georgia had circled and a pivotal Southeastern Conference Eastern Division game against South Carolina.
Maybe that‚Äôs why Georgia coaches made sure to talk up the Volunteers after the Bulldogs‚Äô 48-3 win Saturday.
‚ÄúThey‚Äôre the University of Tennessee,‚Äù offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. ‚ÄúThey‚Äôre going to have athletes. They‚Äôre going to be fast. They‚Äôre going to be bigger than the guys we‚Äôve played in the first four games and we‚Äôve got to get ready to go.‚Äù
Fifth-ranked Georgia (4-0, 2-0 SEC) has won three of the last four games in the series, including a 41-14 drubbing in coach Derek Dooley‚Äôs first homecoming visit to Athens in 2010.
Tennessee (3-1, 0-1 SEC) dropped its lone SEC game 37-20 at home to Florida on Sept. 15. Its victories came over N.C. State, 35-21, Georgia State, 51-13, and Akron, 47-26. The Volunteers were tied at halftime Saturday night with the Zips.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre getting ready to play an excellent Tennessee team that‚Äôs got a bunch of NFL players and they‚Äôve got an NFL system,‚Äù defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said.
This will be the sixth straight game that Georgia has played an unranked Volunteers squad, but the Bulldogs were whipped in two of those games in Knoxville, 35-14 in 2007 and 45-19 in 2009.
The game last year was tied 6-6 in the third quarter in what became a 20-12 Bulldogs win.
This Georgia team is lighting up the scoreboard and piling up the yards.
The Bulldogs lead the SEC in scoring (47.5 points per game, ninth nationally) and total offense (530.0 yards per game, 13th).
Georgia is balanced, ranking third in the SEC in passing (287.5 yards per game) and third in rushing (242.5).
Freshman Todd Gurley leads the SEC in rushing (101.5 yards per game), all-purpose yards (164.3) and scoring (10.5 points per game). The last non-kicker from Georgia to lead the SEC in scoring was Garrison Hearst in 1992.
Even Vanderbilt tailback Zac Stacy saluted Gurley on Twitter Sunday saying he ‚Äúhas a future in this league.‚Äù
Gurley is second nationally among freshman behind Louisiana Tech‚Äôs Tevin King, who is rushing for 117.7 yards per game.
The Bulldogs 45-point win Saturday tied for the largest in SEC play under Richt, but big wins don‚Äôt always carry over.
In 2004, a 45-16 blowout of LSU was followed by a 19-14 loss to the Volunteers.
‚ÄúWe played just superb in that LSU game and then the next week ‚Ä¶ they beat us,‚Äù Richt said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôve got to get our minds right and get this out of our system as quickly as we can and get ready for the next challenge.
The SEC East is shaping up as a race among three unbeaten teams ‚Äî the No. 5 Bulldogs, No. 6 South Carolina and No. 11 Florida ‚Äî that easily dispatched foes Saturday.
Georgia is expected this week to get back from suspension safety Bacarri Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree, but Richt isn‚Äôt confirming that.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôll figure it out in pregame warmup, I guess,‚Äù Richt said again Sunday. ‚ÄúJust like last week.‚Äù
Georgia has withstood the suspensions with its record intact.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt think people realize the amount of preparation that goes into a game, and when you don‚Äôt have some guys, you‚Äôve got to balance getting them ready for when they do come back, as well as getting the guys ready to play the game,‚Äù Grantham said. ‚ÄúThe guys that have played have prepared and done a really good job. I‚Äôm really proud of them, and I think as we move forward it will give us a little bit of depth.‚Äù
Notes: Safety Shawn Williams dealt with a hamstring that was bothering him Saturday night. ‚ÄúHe thought he pulled it while he was stretching, but it was more of a spasm. It just kind of tightened up on him. It kind of shook him up. He thought maybe he had pulled it. It turned out it wasn‚Äôt, thankfully. I‚Äôm not saying it didn‚Äôt bother him throughout the game. You‚Äôd really have to ask him how much it bothered him, but he played the majority of the game. ‚Ä¶Richt reiterated that he didn‚Äôt think defensive end Abry Jones‚Äô ankle injury was serious. He had not received an injury update. ‚Ä¶ Quarterback Aaron Murray is now eighth nationally in pass efficiency (182.4). After two passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown Saturday, he now is tied for 11th in SEC history with Kentucky‚Äôs Tim Couch in career TD responsibility with 78.