Ah, the Third Saturday in September.
Who could forget such classic games as 1991’s Faxgate, Jabar Gaffney’s catch* in 2000, the field goal in 2004, or even the back and forth nature of the past few years? It seems like no matter how good they are, every time these teams play, an exciting game breaks out.
After Florida’s first drive stalled out and the Gators had to punt, Jachai Polite sacked Jarrett Guarantano for a fumble, which was recovered by David Reese. Florida took advantage of the short field as it took just three plays for the Gators to get a touchdown, as Feleipe Franks found RJ Raymond.
The next series didn’t go any better for Guarantano. Luke Ancrum intercepted the third down pass and was brought down at the UT seven. Florida took advantage of another short field, and Franks took it in on his own to make it 14-0 ten minutes into the game.
Things cooled off for a bit after that, as Tennessee turned it over on downs and Florida fumbled. The Vols got a field goal after the fumble to make it 14-3, as things suddenly didn’t look so bad. Florida was forced to punt, and it was downed at the Tennessee 2. Two plays later, the Gators tackled Tim Jordan in the end zone for a safety. After the safety punt, it took just one play for Florida to strike again, as Franks threws a 65-yard touchdown to Freddie Swain to make it 23-3. The Vols would fumble two more times and Florida would tack on a field goal to go into the break, 26-3.
What halftime adjustments did Tennessee make? Did they come out and use their first drive of the second half to try and turn the game around? No. They fumbled the opening kickoff of the half. Florida scored one play later.
Guarantano would throw another interception later in the third quarter to give the Vols an even half dozen turnovers on the day. It was ugly.
Franks finished the day with nine completed passes. Three were touchdowns.
There’s really not much to say about this game. Tennessee hasn’t won a conference game in two years, and that doesn’t look like it will change with Georgia, Auburn, and Alabama looming in the next three weeks.
This is a good win for Mullen and the Gators, but it would have been a worse loss than it is a good win, if that makes sense.