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Tennessee 34, Georgia 31: I don’t know what to tell you.

This one’s going to hurt for a long time.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t know what to tell you. For 59:56 seconds the Georgia Bulldogs played above their heads against a team that by all rights should have run the young and undermanned Classic City Canines off the field. The defense gutted out stop after stop late after looking like swiss cheese for much of the game. Jacob Eason spent his afternoon running for his life and dusting himself off, only to deliver a strike to Riley Ridley for the freshman’s first catch as a Bulldog, a catch which looked like it would go down in Bulldog lore alongside Verron Haynes’ 2001 catch in Knoxville.

And then it all evaporated. You could say that the 20 yards of penalties Georgia surrendered after the touchdown moved the Vols into position to thrust the dagger into Bulldog Nation’s heart. You could say that the phalanx of UGA defenders in the end zone should have gotten into better position. I couldn’t argue with either.

I don’t know what to tell you. In the end Georgia didn’t get it done. In the end Tennessee was resilient and made a miracle play to win a tough road game and take a commanding lead in the SEC East. If you needed further proof that it just isn’t our time yet, this was as close to divine messaging as you’ll get.

There was a lot to feel good about in this one. Brian Herrien ran the ball well. Isaac Nauta is looking like more and more of a mismatch for opposing defenders. The young defensive front got in Josh Dobbs’ face for much of the night. Lorenzo Carter, that last play notwithstanding, was in position to make plays and then did so. There were occasionally holes for the backs to run through, and each of them ran tough. Jacob Eason played the Preseason First Team All-SEC quarterback to a statistical dead heat. Once again he did everything he could in the last minute to win the football game, demonstrating that he has what it takes to win football games in the SEC. On this night, unlike two weeks ago in Columbia, Missouri, it was ultimately out of his hands.

I don’t know what to tell you. Georgia held a 12:14 advantage in time of possession. Led 24 to 18 in first downs, led in total yardage and secured a commanding edge in rushing offense. If you looked at every stat other than the points scored you’d be easily forgiven for thinking Kirby Smart’s team won this one. I’m still having trouble convincing myself that they didn’t. Georgia’s not the kind of program that counts moral victories. If we were this one would go in the win column. That’s no comfort.

On this night the young ‘Dawgs went toe to toe with a veteran Tennessee team that stopped only itself on offense at times, and which proved (stop me if you’ve heard this one before) to often be more than the UGA offensive line could handle. But the young ‘Dawgs took a punch, staggered to their collective feet, and landed what looked like a knockout punch in return. For 59:56 seconds it was enough. and then it wasn’t.

I don’t know what else to tell you.