KNOXVILLE — Georgia earned its 800th win in program history by stepping on the Butch Jones era of Tennessee football with a hobnail boot.
A sold-out, orange and white checkerboard crowd of 102,455 witnessed Tennessee's worst home loss since 1905 on Saturday, as Georgia declared its apparent SEC East supremacy with a 41-0 drubbing of the Volunteers at Neyland Stadium.
Tennessee failed to score in a game for the first time since a 31-0 loss to Florida in 1994 and suffered its worst loss to the Bulldogs since 1981, ending a streak of six consecutive games in the series that had been decided by one possession or less.
Tennessee (3-2, 0-2) turned the ball over four times. It also failed to convert in consecutive third-and-short situations while in Georgia territory late in the first half when the game was still close.
Georgia improved to 5-0 (2-0 in the league) as freshman quarterback Jake Fromm directed his first SEC road win with the help of a relentless running game, a swarming defense and a seemingly endless string of Tennessee miscues.
The Vols' offense has gone 21 consecutive possessions without a touchdown. Tennessee is off this week before it hosts South Carolina on Oct. 14. with the chance at a division crown all but lost just two games into SEC play.
"To win. To win every single game," Jones said Saturday when asked what his team's goals will be. "That's the number one goal. We have seven opportunities left that we're guaranteed. That's always the goal, is to win."
The loss almost surely will set off a new wave of criticism of Jones, who has led Tennessee to three straight bowl wins but has yet to win the SEC East as he nears the midway point of his fifth season in Knoxville.
Even before the game, Jones was subjected to some of the harshest national media scrutiny of his Tennessee tenure when his fiery words to Knoxville media from earlier in the week become a punchline on ESPN's "College Gameday" telecast.
ESPN college football analyst Desmond Howard issued a pointed critique of Jones during the show, and the SEC Network's Paul Finebaum challenged Jones on his Monday remarks when Jones joined him live on the set of an SEC Network program several hours before kickoff.
There was no passing the blame after the game.
"It was as bad of an offensive performance as I've ever been a part of, and it's inexcusable," Jones said.
Georgia's Tyrique McGhee intercepted quarterback Quinten Dormady at the Tennessee 27-yard-line on the first play from scrimmage, and things never improved for Dormady.
Tennessee's defense held Georgia to 7 rushing yards on seven attempts in the first quarter, but it wore down as the game progressed.
The Vols trailed 10-0 early in the second quarter when cornerback Justin Martin intercepted Georgia freshman quarterback Jake Fromm at the Georgia 27-yard line. Two plays later, Tennessee turned the ball over on a bad snap from center Jashon Robertson.
It was as close to the red zone as the Vols came all game. Backup quarterback Jarrett Guarantano replaced Dormady in the third quarter and also struggled to move the football. Georgia possessed the ball nearly 10 minutes longer than Tennessee over the course of the game.
"Our defense was out on the field a long period of time," Jones said. "We weren't able to control the football. We were behind in field position most of the game, and we got a great opportunity on a turnover, then we turned the ball over ourselves. When I talk about the accumulative effect, that's what I'm talking about. When you have a team as good as Georgia, and you get the ball on a turnover in that field position, you have to come away with seven points."
What could have been Tennessee's most explosive offensive play of the first half turned into its third turnover when receiver Josh Palmer had a deep pass wrestled away and land in the arms of Georgia's J.R. Reed for an interception.
The Bulldogs already led 17-0. Five plays later, they led 24-0 after Fromm's second rushing touchdown of the half.
Forty-four of Dormady's 64 passing yards came on Tennessee's third offensive play of the second half when he threw to junior running back John Kelly over the middle. Kelly broke tackles and entered Georgia territory before he fumbled.
Again, Tennessee's momentum was crushed by a turnover.
Boos resonated throughout Neyland Stadium at various times during the game. By the time it was over, a strong contingent of Georgia fans was making all the noise.
Several Bulldogs players sat on the wall between the field and the stands celebrating as Georgia's band played "Glory."
Jones, meanwhile, jetted to the Tennessee locker room after shaking hands with second-year Georgia coach Kirby Smart.
"The bye week is coming at the right time," Jones said. "We're 3-2 with a lot of football left to be played, and we're going to find out what we're made of each and every day moving forward."
Jones said he told his players after the game that their character is being tested.
"We're going to find out who the true competitors are," he said.
Fifth-year senior defensive tackle Kendal Vickers agreed.
"This week is going to show a lot about everybody's character," Vickers said, "and what type of men we have in that locker room."
Contact David Cobb at firstname.lastname@example.org.