Jimmy’s blog: Tennessee takes on Georgia in a rare No. 1 v. No. 1 matchup

By Jimmy Hyams

As Tennessee prepares to play Georgia today in the Game of the Century, here are a few notes of interest.

*This is a rare matchup of No. 1 v. No. 1.

UT is No. 1 in the CFP poll. Georgia is No. 1 in the AP and coaches’ poll.

This is the 25th regular-season matchup of teams ranked 1-2 in the AP poll.

This is the third regular-season meeting of 1-2 between SEC teams. Alabama and LSU were 1-2 in both 2019 and 2011. LSU won both of those contests on the road.

The only other time Tennessee was in a 1-2 bout was the national championship game Jan. 4, 1999 against Florida State.

Tennessee has not beaten an AP No. 1 team since Auburn in 1985 although UT beat coaches’ poll No. 1 Alabama earlier this season.

*Tennessee scored 52 points against No. 1 Alabama (coaches’ poll) on Oct. 15. It scored 38 against No. 1 Auburn (1985). It scored 29 in a loss to No. 1 Notre Dame (1990).

In 15 other matchups against top-ranked teams, Tennessee scored fewer than 20 points 13 times.

It’s a safe bet that Tennessee will lose today if it scores fewer than 20 points against Georgia.

*Tennessee coach Josh Heupel is 43-7 when his team scores at least 30 points (15-2 at Tennessee). He is 0-7 when his team fails to score at least 30 points (he’s lost two of those at UT – to Pitt and Purdue). He is 10-7 when he and his opponent score 30 points.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart is 1-9 when his team allows at least 30 points (he beat Oklahoma 54-48), 53-1 when his team scores at least 30 points. He is 1-1 when his team and the opponent score at least 30 points (he lost to Tennessee 34-31 in 2016).

*Tennessee receiver Jalin Hyatt has nine receptions of at least 40 yards. That’s more than 117 FBS schools and more than 12 SEC schools.

Hyatt’s 14 touchdown receptions is already a UT single-season record. When Alabama’s DeVonta Smith won the Heisman Trophy in 2020, he had 17 TD catches at the time he won the award. He finished with 23 counting postseason.

Hyatt has more TD catches than seven SEC teams.

 *Tennessee’s quick-strike attack has registered at least one 45-yard pass in each game. It has completed 30 passes of at least 30 yards (Ohio State is next at 23). Six different Vols have a 50-yard reception. And UT has 19 pass plays of at least 40 yards (six more than the runner-up).

*When Tennessee played Alabama, the Crimson Tide was No. 1 in the SEC’s in scoring defense and total defense. Tennessee scored 52 points and gained 567 yards.

When Tennessee played Kentucky, the Wildcats were No. 2 in the SEC in scoring defense and total defense. UT scored 44 points and gained 422 yards.

Georgia is ranked No. 1 in the SEC in scoring defense and total defense.

Last year, Tennessee scored a season-low 17 points against Georgia and had just 387 total yards – the second fewest in a game started by Hendon Hooker.

 *Tennessee claims five wins over teams that were ranked at the time of the game. But only two of those teams are still ranked in the AP poll – Alabama and LSU. Pitt (4-4) Florida (4-4) and Kentucky (5-3) are no longer ranked. UT has two wins over teams ranked in the CFP poll top 10 – No. 6 Alabama, No. 10 LSU.

Georgia claims just one win over a ranked opponent – then-No. 11 Oregon. However, Georgia also beat Florida when the Gators were unranked. In fairness, Georgia should get just as much credit for beating Florida as Tennessee, which is a flaw in the criteria.

Based on the CFP poll, the Bulldogs have one win over a top 25 team – Oregon.

*There have been 10 matchups of 1 v. 2 when one team was at least a seven-point underdog.

Georgia is favored by eight.

In those contests, the underdog is 8-2 against the spread and 6-4 straight up.

*Tennessee sold 3,000 of its 5,000 ticket allotment from Georgia. Tickets had to be returned by July 1, which might explain why UT fans left 2,000 tickets on the table because those tickets were $120 each.

You can bet the Vol Nation wishes it hadn’t done that.

The cheapest get-in ticket for the game is $626, according to TickPick. That is the highest ever for a regular-season college football game. The previous high was $519 for an Ohio State-Michigan game.

The most expensive ticket, per TickPick: $5,233.

 *Georgia has won 16 home games in a row. Tennessee has lost 12 in a row to AP top-ranked teams. … UT’s 395 points is the third most by an SEC team through eight games, behind only Alabama (218) and Florida (1996) … Hendon Hooker has thrown a TD pass in a UT-record 20 games in a row. … UT has outscored opponents 96-24 in the first quarter. Georgia has outscored opponents 74-6 in the opening period. … In the past five recruiting classes, Georgia has signed 25 five-stars, UT two.

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