Georgia loses one of its best players ahead of biggest game of the season

Georgia loses star outside linebacker Nolan Smith for the season ahead of the Tennessee game.

Things have gotten a lot harder for the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs when they host the No. 2 Tennessee Volunteers Between the Hedges on Saturday afternoon.

Georgia star outside linebacker Nolan Smith has suffered a torn pectoral, which means his senior season is officially over. Head coach Kirby Smart remained hopeful about the status of Smith’s injury heading into the Tennessee game. However, an MRI revealed far worse damage. Smith was Georgia’s former top recruit, the team’s leading pass-rusher and a possible top-10 NFL Draft pick.

With the way Heisman frontrunner Hendon Hooker can spin it, the timing could not be worse…

Georgia loses pass-rusher Nolan Smith for the season after tearing his pectoral

Although the Dawgs have three players on their defense that could go in the top 10, two have dealt with injuries and one is lost for the season. Georgia’s best player in defensive tackle Jalen Carter made his return to the field vs. Florida after suffering a leg injury earlier in the month vs. Missouri. While defensive back Kelee Ringo is healthy, the Dawgs will need a big game out of him.

Georgia opened as a nine-point favorite over Tennessee ahead of Saturday’s colossal SEC rivalry game. While the crowd will definitely be a factor, Tennessee will be the best team the Dawgs have faced since beating Alabama in the rematch that was last year’s national championship game in Indianapolis. The Dawgs can be beaten here, but the Tennessee defense will give up some points.

Ultimately, few teams are as well equipped to handle a loss of this caliber on either side of the ball. Georgia has recruited at an elite level under Smart for the better part of a decade now. It will be next man up in Athens going forward. And with the crowd being there to help this Dawgs defense Hunker Down vs. Hooker and the Vols, you better believe Georgia will be playing with raw emotion.

The Dawgs can overcome this loss, but Tennessee being their first game without Smith is brutal.

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