Tennessee vs Georgia Updated Odds, Betting Pick and Prediction (Saturday, Nov. 5)
Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Georgia Bulldogs tight end Ryland Goede.
Tennessee vs Georgia Odds
Athens will be the site of an SEC semifinal game that will have massive ramifications for the national title picture. Tennessee and Georgia will meet for the 52nd time since 1899, and never have both teams previously met while ranked in the top five.
The Volunteers landed at the top of the first College Football Playoff rankings but enter as more than a touchdown underdog to the third-ranked Bulldogs.
No team has found a way to stop Josh Heupel’s uptempo RPO two-deep vertical hybrid offense.
An early challenge against Pat Narduzzi’s defense at Pitt limited Tennessee to just 27 points in regulation. The Volunteers have defeated four top-25 teams since playing the Panthers, scoring at least 38 points in each.
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart led an effort to shut down Heupel’s offense last season. The Bulldogs limited the Volunteers to 17 points while recording nine tackles for loss, including six sacks.
Georgia lost much of the defense to the NFL over the offseason, as the handicap in this game resides in whether or not the Bulldogs will have a counterpunch to the Heupel offense.
Plenty of defensive coordinators struggle to game plan for a Tennessee offense that stretches the field at a pace of nearly 21 seconds per play.
Heupel has integrated pieces of offense from previous stops, from the Mike Leach Air Raid at Oklahoma in the late 1990s to a veer-and-shoot RPO method adopted from Central Florida.
The goal of Tennessee’s offense is to stretch the field, expose coverage, limit substitutions and take plenty of deep shots.
— zach ragan (@zachTNT) October 30, 2022
No defensive coordinator has been able to solve the Volunteers’ offense this season, as no weakness exists in the analytics.
Tennessee ranks top-10 in Offensive Success Rate, Points per Opportunity and Havoc Allowed. The Volunteers have been so successful on offense that it has played the second-fewest number of snaps in passing downs.
If a team wants to impede Tennessee, it must be elite in open-field tackling, along with one-on-one man coverage.
The knock on the Tennessee defense was the coverage grading. While that mark still resides outside the top 100, the numbers have improved through October.
The front seven ranks top-10 nationally in Line Yards and Stuff Rate, dominating opposing rush attempts.
The defensive player quickly rising up every voting board is edge rusher Byron Young with his 33 pressures.
Tennessee EDGE Byron Young made our stock watch show on @PFF_NFLSE this week
He plays incredibly fast
— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) October 13, 2022
Defensive coordinator Tim Banks prefers man-to-man coverage over zone, but the struggle to limit passing attacks continues. The Volunteers rank near dead last in allowing passing plays over 10 yards.
The deficiency in pass defense, along with poor tackle grades against elite offensive talent, is what kept Florida and Alabama within one possession.
Smart and offensive coordinator Todd Monken started the 2022 season with pace on the offense. After losing five defensive players in the first round of the NFL Draft, the offense was expected to pick up the slack.
Quarterback Stetson Bennett has led the way with a 52% pass rate, ranking top-10 in nearly every single metric. Down and distance doesn’t matter, as Georgia is the top offense in Success Rate in both standard and passing downs.
When in doubt, throw it to Brock Bowers. pic.twitter.com/SbkuD8udFf
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) October 29, 2022
Bennett has targeted tight end Brock Bowers more than any other skill position player. The Bulldogs will run motion and line Bowers up at nearly every position on the field with a heavy tendency in line or in the slot.
The sophomore averages more than three yards per route run, serving as the most explosive option on the offense. The possible return of Adonai Mitchell at wideout only benefits Bowers, as it would give him more space to work.
The biggest handicap in this game is the stress coming to Georgia’s defense in playing single man coverage.
Pitt’s Narduzzi found success in limiting Tennessee’s offense because of his aggressive defense. Quarters is the coverage scheme that features man-to-man played deep off the ball, confusing wide receivers after the snap. The Volunteers have been excellent at identifying coverage after the snap and changing routes for big plays.
Georgia defensive coordinator Glenn Schulmann is expected to roll with a three-man rush with a spy in the box for quarterback scrambles. Georgia’s numbers indicate a pass rush outside the top 100, but a delayed blitz from a fourth or fifth pass rusher has been a key methodology to this point.
The biggest question for Georgia’s defense is playing man-to-man coverage against a number of explosive options.
The two highest-graded cornerbacks in man coverage are both on Georgia in Javon Bullard and Tykee Smith. Neither has missed a tackle in over 250 combined man coverage snaps this season.
The more impressive number comes from yards after catch allowed. Along with Smith and Bullard, cornerback Kelee Ringo has allowed just single digits on the season in yards after the catch.
Kelee Ringo should have had this one pic.twitter.com/0ZuKAejanv
— Tyler Browning (@DiabeticTyler) October 27, 2022
Tennessee vs Georgia Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Tennessee and Georgia match up statistically:
Tennessee Offense vs Georgia Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Georgia Offense vs Tennessee Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||52||3|
|Seconds per Play||21.3 (6)||28.7 (109)|
|Rush Rate||58.0% (36)||48.8% (92)|
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
Tennessee vs Georgia Betting Pick
The critical handicap in this game is how the defenses elect to defend an elite set of skill-position players.
The Tennessee offense is based on stretching the field, taking deep vertical shots to two of the best wideouts in the nation in Cedric Tillman and Jalin Hyatt.
As stated above, cornerback play for Georgia has been impeccable in man-to-man coverage. The ability to play man frees up other defenders for the spy or delayed blitz on Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker.
Bullard has been a rock at the slot cornerback position, so Tennessee crossing patterns over the middle will be limited.
The targets for the Tennessee offense will be safety Malaki Starks and linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson. Both players have allowed lengthy yards after the catch, while neither has logged a forced incompletion when targeted in man coverage.
In particular, Starks had a disastrous afternoon against Florida as the most targeted defensive back, allowing 73 yards after the catch on four receptions.
While Tennessee will face its most athletic opponent of the season, the ability to execute against the safety position will determine the winner in this game.
On the other side of the ball, the Volunteers lack a single defender in PFF‘s top 200 slot coverage players. Cornerback Wesley Walker has been targeted 17 times this season, allowing 13 catches and 57 yards after the catch. Bowers and fellow tight end Darnell Washington should have no resistance to routes run within the hash marks.
The Bulldogs’ Offensive Success Rate in standard and passing downs gives Smart the ability to dictate tempo. Georgia will break a couple of explosive runs, but all indications are there for Bennett to target man coverage with his best weapons.
Expect Georgia to have successful multi-play drives capped off with touchdowns by the best red-zone scoring team in the nation.
Look for the Georgia defense to play Tillman and Hyatt in one-on-one coverage while keeping a spy on Hooker. Because the cornerback play from Ringo, Bullard and Smith has been elite in man coverage, there’s an expectation the Bulldogs could force a few punts.
A man-to-man quarters scheme downfield will limit the decision-making by Hyatt and Tillman after the snap, creating a big advantage for the home defense.
Action Network projects this game at Georgia -10 with a total well above market at 78. If the Bulldogs elect to go tempo on Tennessee, the total should fly over, but the better bet is a ball-control approach with continued success in achieving first downs.
The Georgia side has a correlation to the full-game and Tennessee team total under. Last season, Georgia won the battle in time of possession and first downs. Expect more of the same from the Bulldogs in Week 10.