Georgia sends Rocky Top crowd packing early

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - With a full 21 minutes and 34 seconds left in the game, a crowd of 107,517 started to become just a little bit less. The rush to the steps wasn't for a trip to bathroom, or for some food. It was to just go on home.

That worry folks had about Georgia, and moreso head coach Mark Richt, lacking that killer instinct, that figurative foot on the throat, the dagger in the heart, the knockout punch?

Not a problem Saturday night.
Nothing was a problem Saturday night. Absolutely nothing.
Not the play-calling.
Not the running game.
Not inconsistency from David Greene.
Not the foot of Billy Bennett.
Not the game plan.
Not injuries.
Not the weather.
Not the traffic.
Most surprising of all?

Not Tennessee, either.

Casey Clausen would've needed six arms - let alone the one he needed last year to beat Georgia if he had played - against the Bulldogs. 

Center Scott Wells said earlier in the week there was a solid hatred wafting forth from the mountains of east Tennessee to the hills of northeast Georgia.

It's bigger now.

For one, there was the big scuffle in the third quarter that led to the ejection of Georgia linebacker Derrick White for apparently taking a swing after an apparent cheap shot by a Volunteer.

Topping that? The biggest tail-whuppin' in this series since 1981, since Georgia had My God, A Freshman - aka Herschel Walker -who a year earlier embedded himself in Bulldog hearts by bowling over Bill Bates here to score in a 16-15 win.

Georgia won 44-0 back in 1981, when Mark Richt was planning to be a Heisman Trophy winner and early NFL draft pick.

But now? If Georgia wasn't atop UT's hate list before, it is now.

One doesn't just stroll into the massive coliseum known as Neyland Stadium and destroy a ranked Tennessee team. And before you can say "it just doesn't happen," it happened tonight.

And the aisles of Neyland became one big orange stream as the third quarter rolled to a merciful close. Within minutes, Bulldog fans were only outnumbered about 2-1 instead of 9-1.

Consider: Georgia had scored 30 on Tennessee only five times in this series, and the Bulldogs lost by three the last time that happened, in 1992.

Consider: Georgia scored more at Tennessee than at home against MTSU.

And easily forgotten is that one moment when Georgia fans frowned, with eyes widened, blurting out a fairly frantic: "What's he doing?"

It happened throughout Bulldog Nation a few minutes into the third quarter, Georgia up 13 and with the ball at its 45.
Punt? Push UT back deep and let the devastating defense back at the fresh meat?


Mark Richt called for the sneak, David Greene got it by half the football, and on continued a 14-play, 83-yard drive that was the stake in orange-covered hearts.

The man may occasionally baffle, but there's some sort of feng shui to just about everything he does, and it's happened again.

UT's day started off bad when its namesake - Texas - was downright whipped by Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl. The bright orange did no better than the burnt orange.

By the time it was over, Georgia fans serenaded "Casey, Casey, Casey." The UT quarterback was as quiet verbally as Tennessee's offense was on the field.

Instead, the night produced a flexing of Georgia muscle we hadn't seen much. Greene was sizzling, the offense seemed to be broader in scheme and was sharper in execution, and the defense remains a collection of always-in-place freaks.

And afterward, Georgia's band offered a version of of Rocky Top - ouch -and wide receiver Michael Johnson pulled off his own Lambeau Leap, but he couldn't come up with any snazzier name than "The Hollywood Special."

'Twas about the only misfire of the night.

There were worries that Georgia players would stomp and dance on thebig T logo at midfield, but the Bulldogs did one better.

They stomped on the big T team instead.

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