No. 7 Georgia rolls to 41-0 shutout of Tennessee
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Jake Fromm threw a touchdown pass and ran for two more scores Saturday as No. 7 Georgia rolled to a 41-0 blowout of Tennessee, which suffered its first shutout in nearly a quarter-century.
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.
"The culture in practice is what created games like today, buying into that," Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. "Right now the kids are buying into that. We're not having to convince them because they're seeing the results."
Tennessee (3-2, 0-2) was shut out for the first time since a 31-0 loss to Florida in 1994.
"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 and also rushed for 20 yards before giving way to Eason with the game well in hand.
Before Saturday, none of the last six games in this series had been decided by more than eight points. Each of the last three years, the winning team had erased a double-digit deficit.
There would be no frantic finishes or dramatic comebacks this time. Georgia (2-0 SEC) made sure of it.
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.
Fromm was much more effective.
The poised freshman found Javon Wims for a 12-yard touchdown pass on a third-and-5 play to give Georgia a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. He added touchdown runs of 9 and 4 yards in the second quarter as Georgia led 24-0 by halftime.
His biggest mistake came on the first play of the second quarter when Tennessee's Justin Martin picked off a pass at the Georgia 27, but the Vols failed to capitalize. 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. Georgia's Lorenzo Carter recovered the fumble at the Georgia 29.
Even Tennessee's biggest gain of the afternoon resulted in a turnover, as Aaron Davis forced a fumble by John 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 the last month that Georgia coach Kirby 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.
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.