ATHENS, Ga. - The Georgia Bulldogs may have found the only team that can stop their offense.
The nation's No. 5 college football team racked up 560 yards Saturday afternoon at Sanford Stadium in posting a 51-44 victory over Tennessee. The Bulldogs extended their record with a fifth consecutive game of scoring 40 or more points, but this one came with some obstacles as they overcame three first-half turnovers.
"That's going to happen," Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. "You're going to have some adversity in games, and there are going to be some turnovers and some penalties. It's not a deal where you will get massive chunks of yards on every down. You're playing good defensive teams and you're playing SEC guys.
"It had been a little easy for us the last two weeks, but we kept telling them this would be a 60-minute ballgame."
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray completed 19 of 25 passes for 278 yards and two touchdowns, and the freshman tailback tandem of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall combined for 294 yards and five scores on 34 carries. Marshall had scoring runs of 75 and 72 yards and collected his 164 yards on a mere 10 carries.
By the time Georgia (5-0) took a 27-10 lead with 11:48 left in the half, Marshall had four carries for 90 yards and Gurley had four for 89.
"We got hit by a freight train early in the game, but we were able to fight and get back into it," Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said. "We went toe-to-toe with a top-10 team that will be competing for a national championship."
The Volunteers (3-2) reeled off 20 straight points in the second quarter with the aid of two short scoring drives that were set up by fumbles caused by linebackers Herman Lathers and Curt Maggitt. The Sanford crowd was silenced by Tennessee's surge, but Marshall Morgan kicked a 50-yard field goal to knot the score at 30 at halftime.
"We kind of gave them points," Gurley said. "If we can go out and execute what we can do, we should always come out on top."
Murray connected with Michael Bennett on two third-quarter touchdowns as Georgia built a 43-30 lead, but the Bulldogs did little offensively following Marshall's 72-yard score with 3:06 remaining in the third. Georgia's fourth quarter consisted of 13 plays for 22 yards.
"We were a little frustrated in the fourth quarter in that we weren't able to get first downs and finish the game," Bobo said. "I think it hurt us when we slowed down and tried to milk the clock a little bit, because we lost our advantage of being aggressive in a no-huddle tempo.
"Fortunately the defense bowed its neck and got those three turnovers in the fourth quarter."
Tennessee roughed up Georgia's vaunted defense until the late turnovers, piling up 478 total yards. Vols quarterback Tyler Bray completed 24 of 45 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns, and Rajion Neal rushed for 104 yards on 23 carries to spearhead Tennessee's 197-yard ground game.
Relieved Bulldogs defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said Saturday reminded him of last season's game against South Carolina, when Georgia came out on the short end of a 45-42 thriller.
"When you've got two wideouts like Tennessee has, you're going to be able to run the ball a little bit," Grantham said. "Your choices are giving up a 5-yard run or a 70-yard pass outside, so you're going to give up some of that. We had guys who were back for the first time and some guys in new spots, and when you face a good team, you can give up some big plays if you're not in the right spot.
"We gave up 14 points in the second half, and we made plays when we had to. We got three turnovers in the fourth quarter, which was big."