What now appears right and wrong about our preseason look at a critical game.
Imagine a world where the Gators win this game by less than 20 points. Is there any question that some of the talking heads will portray that as a "moral victory" for the Vols and a sign that Florida "might not be as good as we all thought they were"? It would be a ridiculous way to view it, but Florida comes into this contest facing an expectation that they will clock Tennessee; anything less will be portrayed as a disappointment.
If anything, this feeling has only been exacerbated by the Vols' dreadful performance against UCLA last week. If this game came in Week Two, after Tennessee demolished Western Kentucky, it would be one thing. But if the Bruins can defeat Tennessee in Knoxville, Florida better be able to win in a rout at home.
Where It Falls on Tennessee's Schedule: It's the first road game, coming after Knoxville tilts against Western Kentucky and UCLA. Afterward, the schedule goes Ohio, Auburn and Georgia -- all In Neyland -- before a bye week and the rivalry game in Tuscaloosa. Things calm down from there, but not much. In any case, there won't be many distractions for the Vols.
Well, I guess there aren't many distractions if you don't count a quarterback controversy (if you've got none, you don't have one), the old coach saying he was "PO'd" by being forced out and the new coach continuing to take shots at the far more talented opponent. Yeah, beyond all that, very few distractions.
So the Vols should have the Gators undivided attention. Doesn't that just make you feel great, Tennessee fans?
Yep. Florida took care of both cupcakes without much trouble.
What Will Decide the Game This Year: "I'm really looking forward to embracing some of the great traditions at the University of Tennessee. For instance: running through the 'T,' singing 'Rocky Top' all night long after we beat Florida next year."
This was slightly unfair to Lane Kiffin. He's said so many more things since then, it's difficult to decide which one Tim Tebow will be thinking of as he rushes for his ninth TD of the day with 40 seconds left in the game.
Tennessee Will Probably Win If ... Swine flu tears through the Florida locker room two days before the game and [Florida] is forced to use reserve offensive lineman Nick Alajajian as quarterback. Something slightly more possible: Monte Kiffin figures out some way to slow down the Gator offense and Tennessee makes a couple of big and/or lucky plays to win a 10-7 type of game.
Actually, the swine flu epidemic is starting to look more possible. Even if the Vols defense plays a great game, Tennessee's offense is likely to give the Gators a short field at least two or three times. Holding Florida to a single touchdown looks almost impossible.
Florida Will Probably Win If ... The Gators are half as good as we think they are. ... Even if Tennessee surprises to the upside this season, it's hard to see them being that much of a surprise.
It's become almost cliched at this point to say this game will be a blowout. That's probably because it's true.
More cliched, just as likely as ever to be true.