Just a few more things before Saturday's big tilt. It's in the FanPosts since we've done enough Florida-Tennessee stuff on the main page already.
This is not 2001. Or any other year.
I've seen a lot of historical comparisons this week regarding Tennessee's chance to win. No one though Tennessee would beat Florida in 2001. No one thought App State would beat Michigan. No one thought Stanford would beat USC. Why not Tennessee this year?
The 2001 comparison is easy to bust. At the time of the 2001 game, Tennessee was 9-1 and ranked 5th in the AP Poll. Right now, Tennessee is 1-1 and unranked. Given the history of the two programs, I am also comfortable in saying that the talent gap between Florida and Tennessee has never been wider. The 2001 Florida team was loaded, but the 2001 Tennessee team had a lot of good players in its own right. Ten Vols were picked in the 2002 draft, including three first rounders. The 2009 Vols have nowhere near that kind of talent.
As for the other examples, there were adverse conditions on top of them probably overlooking their opponents. Michigan came out flat against an App State team that probably could have won the Sun Belt or CUSA. USC nearly lost to Washington the week before, which was probably a warning sign of a lack of focus, and its quarterback cracked a finger in the second quarter which led to four interceptions.
Florida, meanwhile, is not overlooking this game. No one is injured, and nothing about back to back 62-3 and 56-6 wins hints "warning sign." The quarterback is healthy. There is a desire to impress a boatload of important recruits who will be on hand. This one is different. It's not 2001 or 2007. It's 2009, and a Tennessee win is hovering right around the unthinkable mark at this point.
The point spread isn't that far off, if at all.
The most recent point spreads are at 29.5 or 30 points, depending on your casino of choice. Is that really way too astronomically high?
Well, not exactly. The margin in last year's game was 24. For now let's assume the teams are equal to where they were last year, although that's debateable on several levels. Anyway, Vegas considers home field advantage to be about three points. Take 24, add three for Tennessee not being at home again and add another three for Florida being the home team. That takes you too... 30.
As I said, it's debateable if the teams really are the same. Florida's defense is probably better, Florida's offense is not quite as good without Percy Harvin, and Tennessee's offense performed demonstrably worse against UCLA this year than it did against UCLA last year (and this year was even a home game). Include all that when deciding what is or isn't out of line for the game.
This one is for all time.
And I don't mean because circumstances surrounding it. The all time record between Tennessee and Florida currently stands at 19-19. A Florida win would swing the series to the Gators' favor for the first time ever. UT started out fast, going 13-2 up through the 1971 meeting, but Florida is 17-6 since