FACTS & STATS: Site: Neyland Stadium (102,455) — Knoxville, Tennessee.
Television: SEC Network. Home Record: Florida 2-0, Tennessee 2-0. Away Record:
Florida 0-1, Tennessee 0-2. Neutral Record: Florida 0-0, Tennessee 0-0.
Conference Record: Florida 1-1, Tennessee 0-1. Series Record: Florida leads,
GAME NOTES: The Tennessee Volunteers will try to keep their undefeated mark at
Neyland Stadium alive on Saturday afternoon, as they play host to the Florida
Gators in an SEC showdown.
Florida opened up the season strong with a blowout victory over Eastern
Michigan (65-0) and a triumph over Kentucky in its league opener (36-30 in
OT). The Gators had the unenviable task of traveling to Tuscaloosa to play
nationally-ranked Alabama on Sept. 20. They hung tough and even tied the game
at 21-21 early in the third quarter, but they couldn’t hold on down the
stretch en route to a 42-21 setback.
Since opening up 2-0 with strong wins over Utah State (38-7) and Arkansas
State (34-19), Tennessee has fallen to .500 following a pair of difficult road
losses to nationally-ranked teams. The Vols dropped a 34-10 decision at
Oklahoma on Sept. 13, then in their SEC opener last weekend, they battled
wire-to-wire with Georgia but came up just shy, 35-32.
Florida owns a 24-19 advantage in the all-time series with Tennessee and is
currently in the midst of a nine-game winning streak over the Vols.
The Gators scored only two offensive touchdowns against Alabama their last
time out and mustered up just 200 yards of offense. After strong performances
in the first two games, the offense still boasts impressive yearly numbers
(40.7 ppg, 462.3 ypg).
Jeff Driskel orchestrates the offensive attack and has shelled out modest
results. He’s completing a mere 56 percent of his pass attempts for 212.0 ypg
with five touchdowns and three interceptions to go with an additional 83
rushing yards and a score.
Demarcus Robinson has emerged as Driskel’s most trusted receiving target, as
he’s far and away the team leader in receptions (23), yards (353) and
touchdowns (three), although he had just two catches for 14 yards against
In the backfield, Matt Jones (258 yards) and Kelvin Taylor (143 yards) both
average 5.3 yards per carry and each have a pair of touchdowns.
Florida’s typically trusty defense underperformed in the Alabama game by
allowing 672 yards, and the poor showing caused its averages to take a tumble
to 24.0 ppg and 415.7 ypg.
The unit has been outstanding in the takeaway battle by forcing 13 turnovers
in three games, with Keanu Neal leading the charge with two interceptions, a
forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Other defensive standouts include Michael
Taylor (21 tackles), Antonio Morrison (21 tackles, INT, FR), Neiron Ball (15
tackles, 2.0 sacks, FF) and Dante Fowler Jr. (3.0 TFL, sack, six QB hurries,
FF, FR). Taylor is questionable for this matchup with a knee injury.
Tennessee’s offense nearly allowed it to pull off an upset over Georgia last
week, as the unit put up 32 points and 401 yards. The Vols now average 28.5
ppg and 378.0 ypg.
Justin Worley has shown great improvement under center, completing 60 percent
of his passes for 985 yards, 10 touchdowns (one rushing) and three
Jalen Hurd was a prized recruit in the offseason and has made his presence
felt early in his career with 72 carries for 328 yards and two touchdowns.
Marlin Lane (138 yards, TD) is still technically the starter at running back.
Worley spreads his passes out to several different receivers, as seven players
have at least 98 yards but no one has more than 200. Marquez North (188 yards,
three TDs) and Alton Howard (135 yards, TD) each have 17 receptions to lead
The Vols’ defense has impressed as well, allowing 23.8 ppg and 366.2 ypg while
holding opponents to just 21-percent efficiency on third down.
A.J. Johnson is one of the SEC’s best linebackers and has proven so this
season with 46 tackles, 3.5 TFL, an interception, a forced fumble and a
blocked kick. Jalen Reeves-Maybin has also been outstanding with 35 stops, 6.0
TFL and 2.0 sacks, while Cameron Sutton (19 tackles) has a pair of
Tennessee is making the necessary steps to get back into the picture in the
SEC, and at home it should be able to stick with Florida for much of the game.
In the end however, the more-talented Gators will find a way to pull this one
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Florida 31, Tennessee 28