Georgia football takes a trip to good ole Rocky Top this Saturday. Many people have told me that Neyland Stadium is a scary place to play. Even Vegas thinks the game will be closer, putting the spread at 10.5 points. So, if Georgia were playing this game at a neutral site, they would be favored 13 to 17 points. That means Vegas agrees that Neyland is a scary place to play.
The boys in the coffee shop do not buy it. “Georgia has won up there three times in a row,” one of the boys said. “You have to go back to 2009 before that, the last time Georgia lost in Neyland!” “The coach for Tennessee in 2009 was Lane Kiffin, and he is not coaching Saturday; he already lost to us last week.”
Our conversation was heated. I think Neyland is a tough place to play. But Georgia has only lost there three times since 2000. That is an incredible statistic. But let’s look at this a little deeper. Since the 21st century, Tennessee has not been a great program, and that was the point the Georgia program was building up to the success we are experiencing today. That statistic is a little misleading.
But also, the Georgia vs. Tennessee game was played earlier in the year. Many times, the Vols have had hope going into the game. Some Tennessee fans still have hope because some talked about how they can sneak into the CFP final four if they win and chaos happens. I guess anything is possible.
Neyland can be a hard place to play. But given the talent gap between the two teams, Neyland can only do so much to help the Vols. However, Tennessee is a much better team at home than they are on the road. All three losses for the Vols this year have come on the road.
The Vols are averaging 39 points in Neyland. On the road, the Vols are only averaging 19 points. Simply math here, Tennessee is 20 points better at home versus being on the road. However, the Vols have played Austin Peay, UTSA, South Carolina, Texas A&M, and UConn all at home. It’s not precisely Killer Row of home opponents.
We can all agree that Georgia is better than all those teams that Tennessee has played at their place. The Vols have a 14-game winning streak at home. The last team to beat them in Neyland was, you guessed it, Georgia! As Georgia’s head coach, Kirby Smart has only lost four road games. All four of those games were SEC West teams. Smart and the Dawgs have owned the East.
So, what is the conclusion to all of this? Well, Neyland is a challenging and loud environment to play in, but it is not a place that has given the Dawgs issues as of late. When I say as of late, I mean the 21st century.
It might provide the Dawgs an issue early on in the game if the Tennessee fans have not given up on their team yet. But history and this season have told us that Georgia should take care of business on the road in a challenging environment.