One of the great SEC rivalries will take focus again this weekend when the Tennessee Volunteers head on the road to Gainesville to meet the Florida Gators. Florida and Tennessee are both 2-0 heading into this match, and the Gators currently have the number 16 ranking in the country, surprising some folks along the way. The Gators have been on a long winning streak against Tennessee, so can this group of Volunteers reverse the trend?
Florida has defeated Tennessee the last six times that they played one another. That means, amongst other things, that former Gators coach Urban Meyer never lost to Tennessee, and that whole groups of Tennessee players never defeated Florida during their tenures. For hated rivals such as this, that has to burn Tennessee, and they are eager to finally reverse things and start building their own program back up.
New Florida head coach Will Muschamp though isn’t going to go along with that game plan. He’s happy to have the Gators at 2-0 and in the top 20 already, but it’s only been a few weeks, and the real meat of the SEC calendar is yet to come.
If the Gators really want to surprise some folks this year and end up in contention for the SEC crown by season’s end, then they’ll need to beat their rivals here. Playing at home of course will be a huge edge for them in this match. John Brantley has looked solid so far, and he has plenty of help on offense with Rainey and Demps, while the defense appears rejuvenated and more focused under Muschamp’s direction.
Tennessee so far has cruised past two opponents in Montana and Cincinnati. So while two wins are nice, it’s not exactly as if they have faced SEC competition. The same holds true though for Florida, who has given up just 3 points in two throwaway games against Florida Atlantic and UAB. So what do we really know about these teams besides their pedigrees and the expectations they had at the beginning of the year? This is the first meaningful game for either unit, and padded records aside, we’ll see which team deserves to be undefeated by the end of the match.
Looking at the official numbers and spreads for the game, Florida is a 9.5 point favorite at home over Tennessee. The over/under for the match is at 50.5 points.
Tennessee shouldn’t be completely discounted in this match. They are a young team with a chip on their shoulder, and head coach Derek Dooley is building them back up. They are extremely eager to reverse the losing streak against the Gators. However, Florida is a better and more talented team, and they are playing in the comfort of the Swamp. Therefore, expect the Gators to win the game and improve to 3-0. Don’t be surprised though if the Volunteers beat the spread and keep this one close until the end.