It won’t be pretty. The Gators are a hard-nosed, grind-it-out kind of team. Even against Toledo, in what most would call a cupcake game, they only scored 24 points.
Last season, they eked out wins over Bowling Green, Missouri and Louisiana-Lafayette.
The simplest way to sum up Will Muschamp’s Gators is to say that their offense is below average, and the defense is elite. More often than not, the defense keeps them in games, simply needing the offense to not turn the ball over five or six times in order to win.
So, although it won’t be pretty — the Gators don’t play “pretty games” — I think the Gators should handle Tennessee today in the Swamp. The Vols are on the up-and-up under new coach Butch Jones, but they are probably still a year or two away from being competitive in the SEC.
Last week, they turned the ball over once against No. 2 Oregon and lost 59-14. That might say more about Oregon than it does about Tennessee, but this team is just not quite ready to compete at a high level for four quarters.
Prediction: Florida 30 Tennessee 13
Here’s what you need to know before kick-off:
- On Monday, sophomore running back Matt Jones told the media that he was finally feeling “regular” again after battling a serious viral infection throughout fall training camp. The infection cost him to lose 10-12 pounds so it’s no surprise he struggled to get back into the flow of things. The Gators will need him to be his old self and take on the workhorse role if they want to be successful in the SEC.
- Tennessee’s offensive line was ranked the best in the SEC by ESPN.com’s Chris Low. The men in the trenches for the Vols have more than 130 starts combined, so they are fairly comfortable with each other. Muschamp said they will be the best offensive line the Gators play this season. They should provide a challenge for Florida’s vaunted defensive line.
- Jon Halapio will make his first start of the season at right guard after missing the first two games due to a torn pectoral. DJ Humphries will start at left tackle as well against Tennessee.
- If the Gators win on Saturday, it will be their ninth straight victory against Tennessee. The last time they lost was in Knoxville on Sept. 18, 2004. Chris Leak threw for 286 yards and three touchdowns and Tennessee won 30-28.
- According to most reputable online sites, the Gators are 16-point favorites over Tennessee today.
- The game kicks off at 3:30 p.m. ET and will be aired on CBS.
Florida V. Tennessee: What You Need to Know by Taylor Gaines