Game Day Primer: Getting you ready for the Florida-Tennessee showdown
The Gators are one win away from a 4-0 start.
The last time Florida began 4-0 was in 2012, when it finished the season with an 11-2 record. But if the Gators want to continue their undefeated start, they will have to “upset” Tennessee. The Volunteers enter Saturday’s game as slight favorites.
Here’s some stuff to get you ready for game day.
Tennessee (2-1, 0-0 SEC) at Florida (3-0, 1-0 SEC), Saturday at 3:30 p.m. (CBS)
Weather: 85 degrees, 45 percent chance of rain
Line: Tennessee is favored to win by 1.5 points.
Game day reads:
Numbers to know:
* Florida has outrushed Tennessee in each of its 10 consecutive wins over the Volunteers. What’s the gap? The Gators have totaled 1,790 rushing yards to Tennessee’s 502 rushing yards during the 10-game winning streak.
* The Gators have recorded just two rushes for 20 yards or more this season. Florida’s rushing offense is ranked 81st nationally, averaging 170 yards per game.
* Florida is ranked 11th nationally in total defense this season, giving up 258 yards per game.
* In Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs’ last nine starts, the Volunteers are 7-2 and are averaging 39 points and 431 yards per game.
* Both of Tennessee’s primary running backs Jalen Hurd (5.2 YPC) and Alvin Kamara (7.5 YPC) are averaging more than five yards per carry this season. With the help of the duo, the Volunteers’ rushing offense is ranked 16th nationally with 246 yards per game.
Story lines to watch:
* Another game, another streak: You don’t often see long winning streak in rivalry games. But the annual Florida-Tennessee rivalry is one of the exceptions. The Gators hold a 10-game winning streak over the Volunteers. Tennessee hasn’t earned a win over the Gators since 2004. Although the buzz surrounding this matchup is always there, both programs are still rebuilding. In the past 32 meetings between Florida and Tennessee, both have entered the matchup unranked just once and it came last season. It will happen for the second consecutive year Saturday. Despite both teams still trying to get back to the top, a win for either program this week could be season changing.
* One-man band: For the first time this season, Gators quarterback Will Grier won’t be looking over his shoulder for Treon Harris. With Harris serving a one-game suspension against Tennessee, Grier enters the game as Florida’s clear starting quarterback. Even though Grier played the entire game against Kentucky last week, there was still the possibility Harris could enter the game if he struggled. Will we see a carefree Grier against the Volunteers because of this? Well, the redshirt freshman still has some pressure on him with the full-time starting quarterback job still up in the air. A poor performance against Tennessee could open the quarterback competition back up. But Grier should have some success if he has enough time to throw the ball, as the Volunteers’ passing defense is ranked 81st nationally.
* Strength on strength: This year’s Florida-Tennessee game might be decided on the ground like usual. The Gators have outrushed the Volunteers in each of their 10 consecutive wins over Tennessee. But this time, the Volunteers enter with the strong rushing attack. Led by running backs Jalen Hurd (58 carries for 300 yards this season) and Alvin Kamara (26 carries for 195 yards), Tennessee’s rushing offense is ranked 16th nationally with 246 yards per game. But Florida’s defense has been one of the best against the run this season, holding opponents to just 55.3 rushing yards per game. The Gators’ defense is ranked seventh nationally in that area. Something has to give Saturday.
My prediction: Tennessee 24, Florida 17.
Anthony’s season picks record: 3-0.