Tennessee vs. Georgia football game brings out passion

Tennessee vs. Georgia football game brings out passion

October 8th, 2011 by Andrew Pantazi in News

Bobbi and Rick Davis from Niceville, Fla., pause while tailgating before the Georgia-Tennessee football game Friday in Knoxville. Bobbi Davis grew up in Kingsport , Tenn., and graduated from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in 1978. Rick Davis grew up on Signal Mountain and graduated from Georgia in 1978.

Photo by The Knoxville News Sentinel /Times Free Press.

BY THE NUMBERS

UT vs. UGA

• All-time record: 21-17-2, UT leads

• At Knoxville: 11-8-1, UT leads

• At Athens: 10-9-1, UT leads

• Biggest win for UT: 46-0, 1936 in Athens

• Biggest win for UGA: 44-0, 1981 in Athens

• Longest winning streak UT: 9 games, 1989-1999

• Longest winning streak UGA: 5 games, 1909-1924

Source: UT media guide


FAST FACTS

• UT and UGA have swapped victories since 2007, with the home team winning each time.

• The winner in four of the last five games has outscored the loser by at least 18 points.

• UT's 26-point victory (45-19) in 2008 is UGA's largest loss in the past two seasons

Source: UT media guide


ON TV

Tennessee vs. Georgia

• When: 7 p.m. today

• Where: Neyland Stadium, Knoxville

• Broadcast: ESPN2; WGOW-FM 102.3; WPLZ-FM 106.9, WSKZ-FM 106.5


DRIVING ON I-75

Driving up Interstate 75, fans headed to Knoxville for the UT-UGA should be unimpeded by construction projects, Tennessee Department of Transportation spokesman Mark Nagi said.

For several months, a bridge over Watts Bar Lake was being worked on, limiting drivers to one lane in both directions of I-75.

The construction was slated for completion on Oct. 15, but Nagi said it finished Wednesday afternoon, in time for Saturday's football game.

But, he said, that doesn't mean traffic won't still be snarled.

"Once you start getting close to campus," he said, "traffic will back up."

Rick and Bobbi Davis packed their RV last week, each grabbing a stuffed dog before leaving Niceville, Fla., for a vacation in Northwest Georgia and Tennessee that ends with the Tennessee-Georgia football game in Knoxville.

Rick, a Signal Mountain native, loves the University of Georgia; Bobbi, a Kingsport, Tenn., native, is a University of Tennessee graduate. He graduated from UGA in 1978, the same year his wife graduated from UT.

So this week, he packed the RV with Georgia flags, red T-shirts and a stuffed Uga, the Georgia bulldog mascot. Bobbi packed the RV with Tennessee flags, orange T-shirts and a stuffed Smokey, the Tennessee coonhound.

Even their clothes reflect their allegiance. "Hers are mostly orange," Rick said, "and mine are mostly red."

They, like the other 102,000 fans who'll be attending UT's first football sellout of the season at Neyland Stadium, are revving up for the schools' 40th time playing each other. Tennessee leads the series with a 21-17-2 record, but each game is a new chance for victory.

In Chattanooga, where both UT and UGA get their share of graduating high school seniors -- and not just the football players -- the rivalry hits home with special intensity.

The Fox and Hound sports bar near Hamilton Place has 32 TVs, including a 110-inch projection-screen TV that Manager Brett Conrad said he expects to show the game on.

"Tennessee-Georgia will be on most everything," he said.

For Rick Davis, who played baseball and wrestled for Baylor School, the love of UGA football started early. His father was a recruiter for team in the 1960s, bringing in such recruits as linebacker Happy Dicks, kicker Bobby Etter and lineman Dickie Phillips. He and his father attended or watched a Georgia football game every week during the season.

So the Davises, who've been married 33 years, took time off from work this year to head to their fourth Tennessee-Georgia game in a row. They went to their first Tennessee-Georgia game as a couple in 1980. The game was, Rick notes, the first time Georgia fans saw freshman running back and future Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker play. Walker came in late in the third quarter with Georgia behind 15-2. When the game ended, Georgia won by one point.

The outcome of this year's game won't affect them much, though, Rick said.

"We're past all that," he said. "We just enjoy it. It's a bunch of kids playing football. We have a good time."

SAFETY

The UT-UGA game is so all-encompassing in the area, even law enforcement is tapping into it.

To help promote safety, Tennessee Highway Patrol and Georgia State Patrol met Friday at the first rest stop off Interstate 75 North inside Tennessee to promote "Tailgating for Safety." Using the theme of the UT-UGA game, troopers brought brochures, informational handouts, coloring books and even gun locks to the rest stop and discussed other safety issues, including proper child car seat installation, with drivers taking a break at the stop.

So far this year, as of Thursday morning, there have been 721 traffic fatalities in Tennessee, 101 less than the amount so far in 2010 and Tennessee Highway Patrol Lt. John Harmon wants to keep it that way. He stopped a man leaving the rest stop in a Mazda. "Safety, safety, safety," Harmon told the man, who wasn't wearing his seat belt.

Carma Knight, the mother of a 3-year-old who is also expecting another child, asked the troopers for help with her child car seat. It was too loose, she explained.

Georgia State Patrol Cpl. Andy Gideon showed her the way she had the car seat installed, and then he showed her the proper way to install the seat.

Francine and Vincent Jackson Sr. had stopped to stretch their legs, use the restrooms and grab a drink while on their way to the UT-UGA game from Atlanta. Their son, Vincent Jr., was taking his official recruitment visit for the Vols baseball team. The family would watch the football game Saturday and stay in Knoxville until Sunday.

WATCHING THE GAME

For those who live in Northwest Georgia and aren't travelling to Knoxville, the Dawg Pound Sports & Grill in Calhoun, with its half-dozen TVs, will be showing the game while offering food and drink specials. For every Georgia touchdown, shots will be half-off, waitress Jacy Jobe said.

"Our managers are big Georgia fans," she explained.

The bar usually attracts a lot of Georgia fans, but she said that they also see fans from other Southeastern Conference schools.

"I'm personally Auburn," she said, "and I get a lot of crap for that."