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Florida 10, Tennessee 9: Gators Turn to Harris, Come Back, Survive

A lot of bad football gave way to an interesting fourth quarter where Florida's backup quarterback sparked a victory.

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Three quarters of soul-suckingly bad football led to a somewhat crazy fourth quarter in which Florida edged out Tennessee by a score of 10-9.

Jeff Driskel had another rough game, completing just 11-of-23 for 59 yards, no touchdowns, and three interceptions in just short of three quarters of play. It wasn't all his fault, with his receivers dropping at least five passes and tipping two of his picks. Nonetheless, Tennessee's defense stifled basically everything the Gators wanted to do other than some occasional Matt Jones runs.

The Gator defense was pretty stout in its own right as well. All three of Tennessee's field goals came on drives of 47 yards or fewer, with one of them even being the result of a four-play, negative three yard "drive". Justin Worley's accuracy came and went, Jalen Hurd never found the openings he occasionally did against Oklahoma and Georgia, and Pig Howard was the only Vol receiver to break 30 yards on the game with 79.

Nearing the end of the third quarter, though, it felt like Tennessee's 9-0 lead might as well have been 90-0. With less than a minute to go in the frame, momentum swung the visitors' way. Freshman CB Jalen Tabor—who played a pretty great game in coverage—sacked Worley and forced a fumble deep in Tennessee territory. At that point, Will Muschamp decided to pull the trigger and and swap in Treon Harris at quarterback. He and Jones did all the work on a 30-yard touchdown drive to finally get the Gators on the board.

Florida's defense held on the ensuing drive, and Harris and the Gators took over deep in their own territory. Eight plays of Harris passes, Harris runs, and Jones runs gained just enough yards for Austin Hardin to boot home a 49-yard field goal. The Gator pass rush killed the next Vol drive with a third down sack, and Harris and Jones chewed up enough clock before a punt to keep the defense a little bit fresh.

Tennessee took over at its own 22 with a pair of timeouts. Worley first converted a third down to Howard, and then he miraculously avoided a sack to covert a fourth down to Howard on the next set of downs. On the very next play, though, Worley sailed a pass a bit that Keanu Neal picked off to win the game. It looked like Florida might have fumbled its second kneel down snap, but a UT defender swiped the center's arm before the snap.

It's hard to say that either team truly deserved to win this game for as ugly as it was throughout, but it's an absolute gut punch of a loss for the Volunteer faithful. The Vols blew a two-score lead entirely in the fourth quarter, at home, with the really neat checkered crowd pattern, to a true freshman quarterback taking his first meaningful snaps. For the Gators, it doesn't really stave off questions about Muschamp's viability, but it does throw a huge can of gasoline on the quarterback controversy fire.

Florida now has a 10-game win streak over Tennessee by the slimmest of margins.