When it comes to games within Georgia‚Äôs own division, Vanderbilt barely registers on the anticipation meter.
Not so this year.
Ever since Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and Vanderbilt coach James Franklin exchanged fiery words on the field after the Bulldogs‚Äô 33-28 win in Nashville last season, this game was underlined on the schedule for both teams.
‚ÄúEveryone saw what happened at the end of that game, and I‚Äôm sure those guys are ready to play, and so are we,‚Äù Georgia defensive back Sanders Commings said. ‚ÄúIt should be a pretty emotional game.‚Äù
Commings noted some hits that were ‚Äúquestionable by both sides,‚Äù in the game. Georgia‚Äôs Shawn Williams and Kwame Geathers and Vanderbilt‚Äôs Logan Stewart all drew half-game suspensions.
Franklin took issue with what he said was Williams talking trash after the game. He pointed at the Georgia safety and Grantham came to the defense of Williams.
‚ÄúI love my players and I‚Äôm going to support my players,‚Äù Grantham said after the game.
Now they meet again.
‚ÄúI know we‚Äôll be motivated,‚Äù coach Mark Richt said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôll be motivated for that game. ‚Ä¶ We‚Äôll be ready. They‚Äôre a really good team. We have a lot of respect for them and we know we better be ready.‚Äù
Georgia (3-0, 1-0 SEC) will play as a top-five team in the 7:45 p.m game on ESPN2 for the first time since the blackout game against Alabama on Sept. 27, 2008, a game the then- No. 3 Bulldogs lost 41-30.
Georgia moved up two spots to No. 5 in the Associated Press poll on Sunday after its 56-20 romp over Florida Atlantic Saturday night. The Bulldogs are No. 6 in the coaches‚Äô poll.
Grantham said he didn‚Äôt expect his players to be more emotional given how last year‚Äôs game ended.
‚ÄúNah, I think we‚Äôre going to prepare as if it‚Äôs an SEC game,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a home game in our division, so that‚Äôs important. That‚Äôs the way we‚Äôre going to approach it. That‚Äôs really it to be honest with you.‚Äù
Georgia has won 16 of its last 17 against Vanderbilt.
‚ÄúI see it as unfinished business,‚Äù Vanderbilt defensive end Johnell Thomas told the Tennessean on Saturday. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre going to prepare for this game like we would prepare for any other game. We‚Äôre going to come out with high intensity, high expectations and no fear. We‚Äôre going to make this week of practice the best week of practice yet.‚Äù
Vanderbilt (1-2, 0-1 SEC) switched up its starting quarterbacks after losing to South Carolina and Northwestern, going with Wyoming transfer Austyn Carta-Samuels in place of Jordan Rodgers. He led the Commodores to a 58-0 win Saturday over FCS opponent Presbyterian on Saturday. Franklin was noncommittal about his starter for Georgia.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt think they‚Äôll reinvent the wheel this week compared to what they just did this Saturday,‚Äù Richt said.
Georgia‚Äôs quarterback will, of course, be Aaron Murray.
Murray threw for a career-high 342 yards on just 14 completions, averaging 24.4 yards per completion on a night when Georgia‚Äôs offense averaged 11.3 yards per play. He is now tied for second all-time in school history with Eric Zeier in touchdown passes with 67. He‚Äôs five away from tying David Greene‚Äôs record of 72.
Notes: Richt said he is ‚Äúhopeful‚Äù that outside linebacker Jarvis Jones will play Saturday after sitting out the Florida Atlantic game with a a groin injury. ‚ÄúSometimes a pulled muscle you can get set back,‚Äù Richt said. ‚ÄúYou just never know how long it takes for something to heal. We‚Äôll just have to wait and see. We‚Äôd definitely would like for him to play, that‚Äôs for sure.‚Äù Richt hopes to find out more about offensive guard Dallas Lee‚Äôs availability today. Lee was on crutches in the second half after spraining an ankle in the second quarter. ‚Ä¶ The SEC East has three top 15 teams now. In the AP poll, Georgia is No. 5, South Carolina is No. 7 and Florida is No. 14. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs like I say when the season started when everybody wants to keep asking me about schedule, schedule, schedule. I say, ‚ÄòWe‚Äôll see at the end of the year who had the toughest schedule. We‚Äôll see what everybody thinks when it‚Äôs over,‚Äô because you can‚Äôt really predict that. You can predict it, but you can be wrong.‚Äù