Want to Win in Knoxville? Run the Ball

ATHENS – Georgia and Tennessee have always had a particular style of football in common – running the ball.

Even with the more advanced nature of offenses these days – more passing yards than running – the run game still gives the best indicator of the team who will win the game between the Vols and Dawgs.

Since 1997 Georgia and Tennessee have split 14 games. The home team is 8-6, which is a pretty good indicator of who will win the game. The higher ranked team is 8-4, another pretty good indicator of who will win the game. For the record higher-ranked home teams in the game are 5-2 if you are keeping score at home.

But in the last 14 games the team that ran the ball for the most yards in the contest has won the game in all but three contests (2001, 2002 and 2006).

In 1997, Peyton Manning handed the ball off 36 times for 285 yards and the Vols continued their domination of Georgia with a 38-13 win in Knoxville. The Vols outrushed Georgia 210-59 on the way to the national title in 1998. They beat Georgia on the ground again in 1999 – 165-54.

In 2000, Georgia beat Tennessee for the first time in years thanks to outrushing them 146-112. 2001 saw the Bulldogs stun the Vols even though they had only 68 yards rushing compared to Tennessee's 197. In 2002, Georgia won inspite of their rushing effort – 62 yards to the Vols' 162.

In 2003, #8 Georgia knocked out the Vols 41-14 thanks to 186 yards rushing compared to Tennessee's 61. Georgia struggled to move the ball on the ground in 2004, and was upset 19-14 at home as the Vols outran Georgia 127-56.

Georgia's most dominate rushing effort in the last decade and a half came in 2005 as Thomas Brown and the Bulldogs pounded the Vols 198-48 on the ground during a 27-14 win over #8 Tennessee.

But the #10 Bulldogs were unable to take advantage of a 145-115 rushing advantage in 2006 – likely thanks to four turnovers and a blocked punt – to fall to #13 Tennessee in Athens.

2007 saw the Vols shut down the Georgia run game on the way to a blowout win, 35-14. Tennessee outgained the Dawgs 190-69. Tennessee had their way on the ground in Knoxville again in 2009 - 162-89.

But two of the next three years in Athens saw the Vols struggle to move the ball on the ground at all. In those two years Tennessee combined for only ten yards rushing in two games.

The point? To win in this game you'd better run the ball, and run it well. The team that runs the ball for more yards is 11-3 in this game.

The good news for Georgia fans is that this year's statistics are in their favor. The Bulldogs are giving up only 107 yards a game on the ground; the Vols are averaging 111 yards on offense. Tennessee is allowing 140 yards on the ground; Georgia is gaining 176 yards a game.

It looks like Georgia has a pretty good chance to win… according to the numbers that is.

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