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Tennessee vs. Georgia: 3 things we learned in Vols’ thrilling 34-31 win

The Volunteers defeat the Bulldogs in a pivotal SEC East matchup.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 11 Tennessee Volunteers defeated the No. 25 Georgia Bulldogs, 34-31, in Athens on Saturday afternoon. Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs connected on a 43-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass to Jauan Jennings as time expired to propel the Vols to victory.

Things changed when Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason was sacked in the end zone by Derek Barnett late in the fourth quarter. Eason fumbled and UT defensive end Corey Vereen fell on the ball to give Tennessee a 28-24 lead with 2:45 left in the game.

Eason was picked off on Georgia’s next drive, but the defense held giving the Bulldogs the ball back. Eason then connected with Riley Ridley for a 47-yard touchdown.

That gave the ball back to Tennessee and, well, you know, the rest is history.

Here’s what we learned.

Tennessee is in the driver’s seat in the SEC East:

It hasn’t always been pretty this season, but the Volunteers find a way to win. Dobbs isn’t always the most efficient quarterback, but he makes the big plays when his teams needs them the most.

Now, the Vols are 5-0 on the season, including 2-0 in SEC play. The best part of that 2-0 for Tennessee is the Volunteers have defeated their two biggest rivals in the division in Florida and Georgia.

It doesn’t get any easier for the Vols as they travel to College Station to face Texas A&M next week before returning home in two weeks to host No. 1 Alabama.

If the Volunteers win at least one of those games, the SEC East belongs to them.

Georgia showed some life on offense:

The Bulldogs have struggled offensively this season. Some big plays have been made, but UGA has failed to be consistent. Eason learning on the job is part of the problem. However, he’s getting better by the week.

The offensive line is a major problem. The ‘Dawgs have struggled to run the ball mainly due to the offensive line not opening holes. And pass-blocking is still an issue, too. The sack on Eason that led to Tennessee scoring was because Barnett had an easy path to the backfield. Whose idea was it to have a tight end block UT’s best pass rusher?

Through it all, Georgia hung tough and made plays on offense. The passing game was solid when Eason had time to throw. The running game was much better today than it had been in weeks thanks to Sony Michel.

If Nick Chubb can get fully healthy, he and Michel can take this offense to another level.

The Bulldogs didn’t miss Chubb:

Maybe it’s a little presumptuous to suggest Georgia didn’t miss its best offensive player. After all, Chubb is one of the best players in the nation. But on Saturday, the Bulldogs managed to rush for 181 yards and a touchdown.

Michel is a different type of back. While Chubb is a more complete runner, Michel can bounce it outside and help in the passing game, too.

Brian Herrien is also getting valuable playing time and taking advantage of it. After rushing for 78 yards and two scores last week in the loss to Ole Miss, Herrien carried the ball 15 times for 74 yards against the Vols.

Make no mistake, if Georgia is going to break its two-game losing streak and get back in contention, it needs a healthy Chubb.

Just don’t let Georgia fans tell you they lost because Chubb didn’t play.