Georgia shuts down Hendon Hooker, Tennessee in statement win

ATHENS, Ga. — Defending champion Georgia may not have been the No. 1 spot in the college football playoffs’ first pick earlier this week, but the Bulldogs left little doubt as to who belongs in that top spot on Saturday.

Her 27:13 win against No. 1 Tennessee was as thorough as it gets in front of a deafening crowd at Sanford Stadium. Senior quarterback Stetson Bennett passed for 257 yards and two touchdowns, and the Georgia defense held Tennessee’s high-scoring offense without a touchdown into the final minutes of the game.

The Bulldogs, ranked No. 3 in the first CFP rankings, dominated the line of scrimmage as Bennett repeatedly had plenty of time throwing and hitting deep shots down the field from 52, 49 and 37 yards. Meanwhile, the Vols had no answers on offense for Georgia’s swarming defense. Tennessee came into play and led the country in scoring (49.4 points per game) but had to punt three times in the first quarter. And that’s after stabbing a total of 18 times in the previous eight games.

It was that kind of afternoon for the Vols, who lost their sixth straight game to the Bulldogs and were physically bullied after a combined 92 points in wins over ranked opponents Alabama and LSU earlier this season.

Georgia (9-0) took a commanding lead in the SEC Eastern Division race and also put themselves in a prime position to reach the college football playoffs even if they lost in the SEC championship game, similar to last season would .

Tennessee (8-1) has never been able to come into play offensively against a Georgia defense that has allowed just eight touchdowns in nine games. The Bulldogs’ national championship defense a year ago, a defense that produced five NFL first-round picks, gave up 16 touchdowns in 15 games.

It started raining in the third quarter, and the Bulldogs just kept pouring it on a Tennessee team, who were greeted with chants of “overrated” from the Georgia student section. The Vols played in the noisiest, most hostile environment they’ve faced all season. They seemed upset by the noise of the crowd, which sometimes reached rock concert decibels. They committed one false start penalty after another, and in the first half, when the game was still tight, the Vols were flagged for back-to-back false starts after moving within the 10-yard line and had to settle for a field goal .

Tennessee’s deep passing game became nonexistent against a Georgia defense that played without their top pass rusher, senior outside linebacker Nolan Smith, who is out for the season after suffering a pectoral muscle tear. The Bulldogs showed their depth and never allowed Hendon Hooker to find any rhythm.

Hooker, the Heisman Trophy favorite to enter the game, finished 23-33-195 and didn’t throw a touchdown pass for the first time in 20 games.

Hooker was sacked six times and also threw an interception in the second quarter. He was under pressure for most of the game as the Bulldogs kept coming under pressure. He was hit hard in the final minutes and slowly got up before carefully trotting off the field.

The Vols’ longest pass of the game was 17 yards. They came into play with a 36-play FBS lead from scrimmage of 30 yards or more.

Georgia finished with 387 yards in total offense and was able to keep the ball away from Tennessee’s attack with longer drives. Bennett was never fired once.

https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/34957607/georgia-shuts-hendon-hooker-tennessee-statement-win Georgia shuts down Hendon Hooker, Tennessee in statement win

Emma Bowman

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