Rick Neuheisel said he believes Tennessee would beat Georgia if the teams had a rematch in the College Football Playoffs.
“I will be picking Tennessee to win that game,’’ the CBS analyst said at the Knoxville Quarterback Club on Monday. “I looked at the film. The film gives all sorts of opportunities for a guy over there by the name of Josh Heupel and he will have a plan that you’ll be excited about.
“Now that doesn’t mean Georgia isn’t fantastic. But they had a home crowd that made it confusing.’’
Tennessee was so confused, it had seven pre-snap penalties and allowed six sacks at Georgia in a 27-13 loss that was more one-sided that the score indicates.
Neuheisel said some sacks were coverage sacks when quarterback Hendon Hooker couldn’t check into a run play due to the crowd noise.
“That will all get fixed,’’ Neuheisel said. “And I can’t wait to watch that game. And I believe you’re going to get to that game. I really do.’’
In a rematch, Georgia would likely be the No. 1 seed and Tennessee the No. 4 seed and the semifinal would likely be played at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta.
While Georgia would have a home field advantage, Tennessee would have access to at least 20,000 tickets to somewhat offset Georgia’s crowd noise.
Neuheisel said UT’s path to the playoffs isn’t far-fetched. He pointed out that USC and TCU could lose and that Michigan and Ohio State play each other, assuring one falls.
Also, Georgia is a heavy favorite to beat LSU in the SEC Championship game. Some feel LSU, if it wins the SEC and goes 11-2, would jump Tennessee in the playoff standings.
“They’re one of the four best teams,’’ Neuheisel said of Tennessee. “There’s clearly some scenarios where they might be odd man out … But I find it unlikely.
“It isn’t a reach to say it will fall Tennessee’s way. And, by the way, there’s a bunch of people on that committee that believe they (Vols) should be in the top four anyway.’’
Tennessee scored a much-debated touchdown in the final minute of the 66-24 victory over Missouri, a score that some suggest was to impress the Playoff committee.
That’s a misguided opinion.
First of all, the committee has already said margin of victory isn’t important – just a lop-sided win. That’s why it said Oregon’s 46-point loss to Georgia in the season opener was on par with Tennessee’s 14-point defeat to the Dawgs – saying both teams were dominated.
Secondly, anyone on the committee swayed by a 42-point win over a 35-point win should be fired from the committee. Can you imagine hearing one of the 13 saying: “That 35-point win was OK, but man, a 42-point win? Now I’m impressed.’’
Neuheisel wasn’t a fan of UT’s last score against Missouri.
Missouri coach “Eli Drinkwitz is filing that away,’’ Neuheisel said. “Josh Heupel has been on the other side. It is a fraternity. We all get along. But it has been filed. We will see if that ever comes back to haunt him.’’
Tennessee’s backups scored on a 46-yard touchdown pass with 5:43 to play. A 58-yard pass with about a minute left put the ball on the Missouri 1-yard line. Tennessee called timeout.
Running back Dyaln Sampson was stuffed behind the line.
“When they didn’t make that touchdown on the first one … you could feel a little chippinesss that they had tried to do it,’’ Neuheisel said. “I said, `Now, it is probably time to take the knee.’’
Tennessee didn’t. Sampson scored on the next play with 36 seconds left.
“There’s a graceful way to end this,’’ Neuheisel said during the CBS broadcast Saturday.
“You just hope for the pollsters, for the committee, you’re not trying to just show off,’’ Neuheisel said.
Heupel said Monday his backups were in the game and the thought of taking a knee “absolutely went through my mind.”
“I don’t know what the right thing to do is in that moment. At the end of the day, our guys continued to play football.’’
At the end of the day, Drinkwitz said he wasn’t upset.
At the end of the day, it likely won’t have an impact on next year’s Tennessee-Missouri game.
And at the end of the day, it shouldn’t make an impact on any voters.
If it does, they should be fired.