Tennessee and Georgia have had just enough ups and downs to make Saturday's game at Neyland Stadium a toss-up. But while you might question where the Vols and Bulldogs are headed, there's no doubt who's leading them.
Quarterback Aaron Murray started last season for the Bulldogs as a redshirt freshman and made first-team preseason All-SEC this year. UT's Tyler Bray started the last third of his freshman season in 2010 and now leads the SEC in pass efficiency, yardage and touchdown passes.
In a division rife with quarterback troubles, Bray and Murray are the exceptions.
Vanderbilt's and Kentucky's quarterback deficiencies were apparent before the season started. Stephen Garcia is having an awful senior season at South Carolina, and Florida senior starter John Brantley is out for the LSU game after suffering a leg injury Saturday against Alabama.
Bray and Murray aren't just the quarterback exceptions in the SEC East. Their pairing is an exception in the rivalry, which has given you more outstanding quarterbacks than outstanding quarterback matchups.
UT's Peyton Manning and Georgia's Matthew Stafford were No. 1 picks in the NFL draft. But those drafts were 11 years apart.
One of the best quarterback pairings in the last 20 years of the series was in 1992 when Tennessee's Heath Shuler swapped spirals with Georgia's Eric Zeier.
Shuler later became the third pick in the first round of the 1994 draft. Zeier still holds 10 school records 17 years after he played his last college game.
Uncertainty at the position — on at least one team's part — has been a more familiar theme, although the surer quarterback hasn't always prevailed.
In 1998, first-year Tennessee starter Tee Martin entered the game with a sub-.400 pass-completion percentage. Georgia freshman starter Quincy Carter was coming off a spectacular performance against LSU.
But Martin improved his accuracy, and Carter struggled behind an offensive line that was overwhelmed by UT's defense.
The Vols were on their way to the national championship. The Bulldogs were on their way to the Peach Bowl.
In 2001, UT appeared to have a clear-cut quarterback advantage. Second-year starter Casey Clausen had a talented receiving corps, and Georgia was breaking in redshirt freshman David Greene.
Yet Greene trumped Clausen with a game-winning drive in the final minutes and went on to win three of four starts against the Vols.
In 1994, Zeier was in his fourth year as a starter, and the Vols were scrambling to make up for the loss of quarterback Jerry Colquitt, who suffered a season-ending injury a week earlier. But baseball star Todd Helton led the Vols to a 41-23 victory.
Two weeks later, Manning became UT's starting quarterback.
Joe Tereshinski started for Georgia in 2006. He played exceptionally in the first half and terribly in the second as his team blew a lead in a 51-33 defeat.
The Stafford era was about to begin.
No future starters are limbering up in the on-deck circle this go-round. In fact, this could be the first of three Bray vs. Murray match-ups.
No one should complain about that.
Their matchup alone won't determine Saturday's outcome. But it should pump excitement into a series in which the last six games and 14 of the last 18 have been decided by double-figure margins.
The Vols and Bulldogs are overdue for a game like the one in 1992. And they have the kind of quarterbacks who could make it happen.