Tennessee hasn’t beaten Georgia since 2009, and has won in Athens since 2006 when the Volunteers downed the Bulldogs 51-33.
Georgia needed overtime to beat Tennessee 34-31 on Rocky Top last season.
Quarterback Hutson Mason has put his team on notice.
“If you don’t take Tennessee seriously, they will beat you and ruin your season,” Mason said according to the Athens Banner-Herald.
“We understand that this is not the Tennessee of the past couple of years,” Mason said. “Coach [Butch] Jones has done a phenomenal job of quickly turning around that program and they’ve got talent.”
Both teams face a big opportunity on Saturday with the SEC East wide open after Missouri shockingly lost to Indiana, Florida was dominated by Alabama and South Carolina needed every ounce of fight against Vanderbilt.
Georgia and South Carolina are the only two ranked teams in the East. The Bulldogs fell in at No. 12 in the AP Poll, with the Gamecocks one spot behind.
Georgia opens up as a 19-point favorite over a Tennessee team that played 16 true freshmen two weeks ago against Oklahoma with five of those newcomers starting for the Vols.
“The thing I see more than anything is just a high level of energy, got a bunch of guys playing really hard,” Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt said on his Sunday evening teleconference. “They look very well coached, they look really excited about playing and I think they’re doing a really good job … there’s a lot of new faces for sure and we’re just getting familiar with them now.”
Tennessee head coach Butch Jones senses a difference in this team in year two, however.
“We talk about investing in victory and deserving to win and expecting to win,” Jones told the Daily Times. “Last year we hoped to win. This year I really see a sense of investment in victory, I see them expecting to win, I see them expecting success.”