There is a certain kind of hate that is reserved for Alabama for Tennessee fans, and a certain kind of hate that is reserved for Georgia for Florida fans, but when the Gators and the Volunteers meet in late September, hate doesn’t even begin to describe the intensity of this classic southern rivalry. Both teams are walking wounded coming into this game. Last week, the Vols suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Oregon Ducks, 59-14. The week before, Florida lost to rival Miami, in a game that saw quarterback Jeff Driskel throw three interceptions.
Tennessee’s defense will be the key in The Swamp this afternoon. Obviously, Oregon’s offense is on a different level than pretty much every other team in the country, but they have to play like they did against Western Kentucky, where they forced seven turnovers, five in six plays. If they can force turnovers, and give their offense short fields early on, I think that Tennessee has a really good chance at upsetting the 19th ranked Gators.
For Florida, all eyes are on Jeff Driskel. He has to come back and have a solid game, with no turnovers, if Florida wants to win this game. The home field advantage will also be a key for Florida. The fans have to stay in the game, and with an inexperienced quarterback for Tennesee, the swamp can get really nasty, really fast. Finally, the run defense for Florida will be a third key. If Tennessee can control the pace and possession of the game, they can force Florida into having to play comeback, and Driskel into throwing more, and risking more to get back in the game. Rajion Neal, and Marlin Lane have almost 500 yards rushing and seven touchdowns in the first three games for UT. A successful running attack will also take the momentum out of the game for the opposing team, and can sometimes turn a crowd against the home team.
Overall, I really like Tennessee’s chances in this game. If they are leading at halftime, I think Tenessee’s defensive pressure and ball control will be enough to hold on against Florida.
Prediction: 35-28 Tennessee