KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — At 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Tennessee will host Missouri for its home-finale in 2016. Roughly a 10-hour drive to the southwest, Florida and LSU will be battling in the second half of a showdown in Baton Rouge.
With a ticket to the SEC Championship on the line, there’s sure to be some scoreboard watching in Neyland Stadium — only don’t expect Tennessee’s players to participate.
“We have to take care of business,” senior quarterback Josh Dobbs said.
“That score won’t mean anything if we don’t take care of business Saturday. We have to focus on us. Play the best game we can play and then from there everything else will play out.”
The stakes are simple: Tennessee must win out (at home vs. Mizzou and at Vanderbilt) and have the Gators lose to the Tigers.
Vegas certainty likes the Vols chances, as they’re 15.5 point favorites Saturday while UF is a 12.5 road underdog. Tennessee (7-3, 3-3 SEC) would win the tiebreaker over Florida (7-2, 5-2) as a result of its thrilling 38-28 comeback win on Sept. 24.
Following Hurricane Matthew, there was some brief hullabaloo whether Florida and LSU would be replayed, making Rocky Top apoplectic. But after some posturing from both schools, UF agreed to travel to Baton Rouge this season.
Fifth-year senior LaTroy Lewis acknowledged the Vols were initially “excited” about the game change a couple weeks ago, but the defensive end quickly reminded everyone the focus is solely on going “1-0 this week” now.
Atlanta can wait.
“We hope for a good outcome in Baton Rouge, but we’re focused on getting this win in Knoxville,” he said.
“We can only control what we can control.”
What if Neyland erupts if Florida loses?
“They’ll probably react throughout the game, but we’ll just have to take care of business and see how things play out,” Dobbs said, smiling.