It’s only Week 5, but Tennessee fans have the chance to take a road trip to watch the Volunteers all but lock up the SEC East title at Georgia.
That’s an exciting prospect, to be sure. It’s a 235-mile car trip from the middle of Knoxville to Sanford Stadium, which Google Maps says will take about 4 hours and 10 minutes.
If that doesn’t sound appealing, one can book a flight from Knoxville to Atlanta and then rent a car to get over to Athens for the game. It’s pricey, but it would save some travel time.
Let’s have a look:
We learned in physics that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but the mountains make that tough on this trip. So, that’s why we’re asking you to take Interstate 40 East, U.S. 74 West and U.S. 23 South to get to the game.
Why the game could be good: A win for Tennessee would go a long way toward locking up the SEC East. Should the Volunteers win, they would hold at least a 1-game lead on Florida and a 2-game lead on Georgia.
In that scenario, Tennessee also would own the tiebreaker against both. It’s hard to imagine the Volunteers losing enough SEC games the rest of the way to let anyone back in it.
That said, the Volunteers must find a way to come down from the emotional high of the thrilling win against Florida last week to prepare for the trip to Athens.
On the other hand, the Bulldogs have to put the dismal performance at Ole Miss behind them. With that SEC loss already on the ledger, this game is an absolute must for their SEC East title hopes.
Stop for food: You might be hungry when you get to Franklin, N.C. If so, take a slight detour to Ms. Lois’ Restaurant. Whether it’s biscuits and gravy for breakfast or a homemade burger for lunch, it’s a favorite spot for locals.
Want something a bit more upscale? The Root + Barrel Kitchen could be more your speed.
When you get to Athens, Little Italy Pizzeria is a great spot.
What to see along the way: There’s a couple of places in North Carolina to stop and see.
Whether it really was the place where the last shot was fired is unknown, but because you’re there, you might as well check it out.
What to do besides watch football: In Athens, you can visit the Georgia Museum of Art on the campus at the University of Georgia.
If your family is in tow, it’s hard to go wrong with a zoo. The Memorial Park and Bear Hollow Zoo is a good one.
Or, you can keep it simple. On the way back on Sunday, pick any exit in Western North Carolina or Tennessee, pull over and explore the beauty of that part of the world.
Tailgating options: Like most SEC venues, the tailgating around Sanford Stadium is excellent.
Sports on Earth columnist Will Leitch posted a few tips on tailgating in Athens, and it’s worth a read.
At the risk of spoiling the column, avoiding brown liquor outdoors always is sound advice.
Parking: Arriving early will make things easier. Need more information, click here.
Need a postgame drink? After the game, choose a spot that matches your mood. If you want to talk, try Pauley’s. If you just want to lose yourself in the bottom of a mug, then the Boar’s Head might be a better choice.