Time: 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT
Commentators: Adam Amin, Rod Gilmore, Quint Kessenich
Watch Online: WatchESPN
Spread: Florida opened as a 6-point favorite. BUT, the line shrunk down to 4.5.
Total: The O/U is at 49 or 47 depending on your locale.
Records ATS: Florida (2-1) || Tennessee (1-2)
Head-to-Head History: Florida and Tennessee have met one another 47 times. The Gators lead the all-time series over the Vols, 27-20.
The Gators, of course, bounced ahead of the Vols with their 11-game win streak from 2005-2015. The streak was snapped in 2016, but UF beat UT 26-20 last year after a Hail Mary. So the Vols haven’t picked up two straight wins over their rivals since 2003 and 2004. The latter, of course, being one of the more dramatic games in the entire series. Shouts to Jayson Swain and James Wilhoit.
The Tennessee Volunteers and Florida Gators traditionally met on the third Saturday of September. But despite the fact that this will be the fourth Saturday of the current month, the rivalry between these schools still remains the same. The 2018 edition might feature two rebuilding teams, but you can bet that the fans will still be rowdy inside Neyland Stadium on Saturday.
The Volunteers and Gators are both coming into this matchup on the heels of wins. The Vols beat the UTEP Miners over the weekend, while the Gators defeated the Colorado State Rams. Both teams are 2-1, having each suffered losses in the early goings. There was no real shame for the Vols when they lost the opener against the West Virginia Mountaineers. But Florida? To the Kentucky Wildcats? A team they’d beaten 31 times in a row? Eeeesh.
Both teams essentially are hoping that their offenses play up to snuff. That’s been the trouble for Florida for seemingly... forever. But they’ve scored 48 and 53 this year, with a 16-point effort mixed in there in their loss to UK. So... so far, so good? Sure it was CSU and Charleston Southern. But results are results right? Feleipe Franks has been inefficient, completing only 53.2 percent of his passes.
The yardage is there, for sure, as he has 570 yards, as well as nine touchdowns to just two picks. But that ineffectiveness may well plague him against the Volunteers. They are only allowing 179 yards through the air and 53.5 percent of passes completed against them. So, basically a Jeremy Pruitt defense. Will Grier looked sensational, but he’s Will Grier. So... ah, right. Touchy subject. Anyhow, Franks will definitely be tested this Saturday. That much is certain.
Tennessee meanwhile has averaged 32+ points this season. They only scored 14 against WVU but dropped 59 on ETSU and 24 a week ago vs. UTEP. Their QB situation seems to be solving itself, as Jarrett Guarantano is completing passes at a 72.2 percent clip and averaging 9.1 yards per attempt. His AY/A of 9.9 is pretty gaudy as well, so you definitely have to like what you’re seeing. But he hasn’t thrown more than 25 attempts this season and you wonder if that’s going to change against the Gators.
This especially rings true since the Gator defense has been good against the air, as well. The QB play hasn’t really been there but they’re still only allowing 131.3 yards and a completion percentage of 53.4 percent. Marquez Callaway and Jauan Jennings will have to be there for Guarantano if they want him to succeed. They’ve been the most reliable targets, so in all likelihood, they will be.
Both teams’ ground games have each been pretty stout. The Vols are amassing over 220 yards per game on the run while UF is mustering up about 184. It’s UF who’s made the most of it though, carrying a 5.7 YPC compared to Tennessee’s 5.0. The primary reason for that has been Dameon Pierce. Pierce has averaged a robust 12.5 YPC, needing only 13 carries to get to 162 yards. That’s pretty dang good. Lamical Perine’s mark of 7.6 is pretty great as well. Jordan Scarlett is down at 5.5, but he has over 100 yards on the season so far.
The runner to watch for the Vols might be Madre London or Ty Chandler. London has averaged 6.0 yards per carry this season on just 22 carries, while Chandler has 154 on MERELY 16 (9.6 YPC for the non-math majors out there). Tim Jordan has received the bulk of the carries (48) and he has over 200 yards (232) so he’s been good when called upon. So has Jeremy Banks, who has 118 yards on 27 carries. Jordan, Banks and London have found the end zone twice each while Chandler has another rushing TD.
Point-blank: The team who runs the ball the best might very well take home the victory on Saturday night in Neyland. The rivalry has lost some luster, but this affair could still be intriguing enough to catch your eye. Or to make some jokes. Who’s to say?