What's the key to winning Saturday's matchup against Tennessee? Kirby Smart shares his thoughts
Georgia has beaten Tennessee three seasons in a row — with the Volunteers’ previous win in the annual series coming during the 2016 season — and will be looking to extend that streak to four on Saturday in Athens.
Both teams are undefeated entering Saturday’s matchup after Georgia beat Arkansas 37-10 on the road and Auburn 27-6 in Athens, while Tennessee won at South Carolina 31-27 in the opener and beat Missouri 35-12 last weekend in Neyland Stadium.
The winner of Saturday’s matchup guarantees to be in first place in the division by the end of the game (Florida would also be considered tied for first place if the Gators can defeat Texas A&M in College Station on Saturday) and would hold the tiebreaker over the other in this critical SEC East showdown.
During a recent appearance on ESPN’s “College Football Live” show on Wednesday, Kirby Smart was asked if there was one thing Georgia has to do well to win on Saturday.
Without hesitation, Smart offered up the key to the game for the Bulldogs.
“I would say protect the ball. It’s always the most important thing,” Smart said on the show. “It’s a big part of the game and it’s just never a trite expression to talk about the ball, the ball, the ball. We talked about it all the time, you got to do that well.”
A big key to Tennessee’s fast start to the season has been the Volunteers’ ability to protect the football. Jeremy Pruitt’s team has yet to turn the ball over while Smart’s team has only done so twice this season.
Both turnovers came in the Arkansas game, which played a part in keeping the Razorbacks in the game for the first half of the opener. Eventually, Georgia pulled away but they may not be so fortunate if they don’t protect the ball against Tennessee.