KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s best team since its 1998 national championship squad was the 2001 Vols led by Casey Clausen and featuring the likes of future NFL stars Jason Witten, John Henderson, Kevin Burnett, Jabari Greer and Rashad “Boo Boo” Moore.
But on Oct. 6, 2001, the Georgia Bulldogs stole UT’s thunder, driving for a last-minute touchdown for a 26-24 victory.
In the words of the late Georgia radio man Larry Munson, “We just stepped on their face with a hobnail boot and broke their nose. We just crushed their face!”
Then, like now, the Bulldogs were led by a freshman quarterback.
David Greene was Georgia’s quarterback in 2001, and the Bulldogs were not expected to win against then-No. 6-ranked Tennessee.
The No. 11-ranked Vols (4-0, 1-0) are favorites against No. 25 Georgia (3-1, 1-1) in Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. game between the famed hedges of Sanford Stadium in Athens.
The original comeback
Tennessee enters the game coming off the biggest second-half comeback in the history of Neyland Stadium, rallying from 21-3 down to beat Florida 38-28.
Quarterback Josh Dobbs engineered the rally with four touchdown passes, a rushing touchdown and 399 yards of total offense — similar to how he brought Tennessee back against the Bulldogs last year.
The Vols had fallen behind Georgia 24-3 in last season’s meeting in Neyland Stadium before closing to 24-17 at the half. Dobbs finished that game with 430 yards of total offense, 3 passing touchdowns and 2 rushing touchdowns in a 38-31 victory.
Location: Athens, Ga.
Series record: Tennessee leads 22-21-2, and the Vols are 10-11-1 in Athens.
Famous alumni: Wayne Knight, “Newman” on Seinfeld; Ryan Seacrest, TV producer; wrestler Bill Goldberg; Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker; tennis player John Isner; The B-52s musicians; actress Kim Basinger; former Auburn coach Pat Dye; ESPN GameDay analyst David Pollack; Abdul Karim al-Iryani, Prime Minister of Yemen; author, Atlanta-Journal Constitution columnist Lewis Grizzard; CoSIDA Hall of Fame SID Claude Felton.
By the numbers
10: Georgia mascot Uga X was introduced last November against Georgia Southern.
23: Tailback Nick Chubb is questionable for this week’s game with an ankle injury suffered in last week’s 45-14 loss to Ole Miss. Chubb has played in 23 games for Georgia and ranks No. 6 on the school’s all-time rushing list with 2,716 yards on 6.9 yards per carry.
25: Approximate percentage of University of Georgia students that are members of the Greek chapters of fraternities and sororities, according to U.S. News and World Report.
30: Georgia is giving up 30 points per game, despite being coached by former Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, a Nick Saban protege.
31: Opponents have scored 31 points off turnovers against Georgia this season, while the Bulldogs have scored 13 off turnovers.
40: Age of new Georgia coach Kirby Smart, who was born in Montgomery, Ala., and attended Bainbridge (Ga.) High School before attending the University of Georgia.
56: The University of Georgia is ranked No. 56 according to the 2017 U.S. News and World Report edition of “Best Colleges, National Universities.”
137: Freshman quarterback Jacob Eason was 16-of-36 passing for 137 yards and an interception in the 45-14 loss at Ole Miss last Saturday.
1956: Georgia’s “Uga” mascot line began in 1956 when then-coach Wally Butts asked permission to use a bulldog, who was present at a game, as the team mascot. The dogs have always been owned by the Seiler family in Savannah, Ga.
1938: Kirby Smart is the first Georgia coach to open his career 3-0 since 1938, when Joel Hunt accomplished the feat.