But it wasn't to be. A video review showed that Howard lost control of the ball moments before crossing the goal line, and officials ruled the play a touchback.
That was all the Bulldogs needed. On the ensuing possession, Georgia kicker Marshall Morgan -- who had already connected on a career-high 56-yard field goal in the first quarter -- booted a 42-yard field goal to seal the win. The victory featured another masterful performance from Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray, who hit senior receiver Rantavious Wooten in the end zone for a two-yard touchdown pass with five seconds left in regulation that knotted the game at 31 and forced overtime.
In the first half, Tennessee did not look capable of contending with Georgia, which carried a 17-3 lead into the break. But the Volunteers surged back to tie the score at 17 in the third quarter following a 19-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Justin Worley to receiver Marquez North, and a punt block touchdown. With the score tied at 24 midway through the fourth quarter, Tennessee put together a 13-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a seven-yard Raijon Neal touchdown run with 1:54 remaining. But Murray kept the Bulldogs alive by leading a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive of his own -- and set the stage for Morgan's game-winning kick.
The Vols donned special "Smokey gray" jerseys for the first time. The last time Tennessee defeated a ranked opponent -- a 31-13 win over No. 22 South Carolina in 2009 -- the Volunteers wore black jerseys. But against Georgia, uniform magic wasn't enough for coach Butch Jones and his scrappy team to complete a BCS-altering upset.
Jones made some gutsy calls at key moments late in the game. Tennessee converted all three of its fourth-down tries on Saturday, including a critical pass from Worley to tight end A.J. Branisel that went for 28 yards on fourth-and-one with less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter. Worley, who appeared more comfortable in the second half, completed 17-of-31 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown; he also didn't throw an interception after throwing five in the past two games.
But Murray was the real star in this one. In addition to engineering the game-tying drive, the senior passed for 196 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions. With each victory, Murray continues to shake off his reputation as a quarterback who can't win big games. He even became the SEC's all-time leading passer on Saturday.
The Bulldogs look like national title contenders, even with an opening-week loss to Clemson on their resumé. Before playing the Volunteers, Georgia had already beaten two top-10 opponents (LSU and South Carolina). The trouble for the Dawgs will be staying healthy. One week after they lost running back Todd Gurley to an ankle injury, tailback Keith Marshall went down with a leg injury, and receivers Michael Bennett and Justin Scott-Wesley were also carted off the field. [RECAP l BOX]
• No. 19 Michigan 42, Minnesota 13: Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner finally looked like the player who dissected Notre Dame's defense in Week 2. In routing the Golden Gophers, Gardner completed 13-of-17 passes for 235 yards and one touchdown -- and he didn't throw an interception for the first time as a starter. He hit tight end Devin Funchess in the end zone from 24 yards out with 1:25 remaining in the first half to give Michigan a lead it wouldn't relinquish.
• No. 14 Miami 45, Georgia Tech 30: The Hurricanes led the Yellow Jackets 24-23 until midway through the fourth quarter. At that point, Miami took off, scoring three touchdowns in the last eight minutes to clinch the victory. Miami quarterback Stephen Morris completed 17-of-22 passes for 324 yards and three touchdowns, with two picks, while running back Duke Johnson carried 22 times for 184 yards. [RECAP l BOX]
• No. 21 Oklahoma State 33, Kansas State 29: Cowboys quarterback J.W. Walsh wasn't going to suffer a heartbreaking loss two Saturdays in a row. One week after getting upset by West Virginia, Oklahoma State rallied in the fourth quarter to hold off the Wildcats. Walsh's six-yard pass to Charlie Moore with 4:13 remaining gave the Cowboys a 30-29 lead. The Pokes added a late field goal to seal the game and keep their Big 12 title hopes alive. Meanwhile, Kansas State quarterback Daniel Sams gained 299 total yards (181 passing, 118 rushing) in the losing effort. [RECAP l BOX]
• No. 3 Clemson 49, Syracuse 14: Tajh Boyd welcomed the Orange to the ACC with a monster game. The Tigers' quarterback threw for 455 yards and five touchdowns, with one interception, in only three quarters of action as Clemson blitzed Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. Boyd put up a game's worth of stats by halftime, by which point he'd already completed 15-of-17 passes for 317 yards and four touchdowns. The Tigers' Sammy Watkins (126) and Adam Humphries (118) both surpassed the 100-yard receiving mark. [RECAP l BOX]Washington State 44, Cal 22: this Cougars Connor Halliday Bears [RECAP l BOX]