Originally written on Checkerboard Chatter  |  Last updated 11/8/14

Fitting as I begin to type this story that Peyton Manning is playing football. For many Vol fans, any mention of Peyton can't help but conjure up hatred for the "Mighty Gators" from Gainesville. 

This Saturday, Tennessee welcomes Florida to The Hill after defeating FBS neophyte Georgia State 51-13 to move their season record to 2-0. 

Against the Panthers, Bray was fantastic once again completing 90% of his passes for over 300 yards and four touchdowns- three of which went to Justin Hunter. 

Before I read too much into Bray's hot start, let me go back to 2011. The Vols launched an aerial assault on Cincinnati and Montana only to fall the following week in their SEC opener at Florida. 

Though Hunter's injury was a major blow to the Vols chances in The Swamp, I believe Tennessee lost that contest due to the battles in the trenches not outside the hash marks. 

Bray did not enjoy the same pocket protection against the Gators formidable defensive line and the running game couldn't gain traction. The result: another defeat. 

Back in the 90s when Steve Spurrier, accompanied by his famed Fun 'n Gun passing attack, faced off against Tennessee in a perennial clash of Top 10 titans, the true tell-tale sign of victory was the rushing yards category.

Though many things have changed in this rivalry including the head coaches and the elite status of these two SEC powers, that statistic's relevance still rings true.

The team that controls the line of scrimmage this Saturday will most likely improve their season record to 3-0 and take a significant step toward the driver's seat in the Eastern Division Championship race.

That's why I say Tiny Richardson and Company need to be huge this Saturday. Winning the rushing battle should be a primary goal. This would keep the Gators' defensive line honest, and allow Bray to leverage UT's largest strength- the passing game.

Lose the rushing battle, and we're likely to experience the despair associated with the Manning years. 


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