Here at the Fearless Prediction we aren’t afraid to brag about our successes. Over the past 15 Tennessee games, we’ve picked the Vols result correctly 13 times. But let’s be honest. I don’t know what’s going to happen on Saturday night when Florida comes to Neyland Stadium, and you don’t know what’s going to happen either.
There are similarities between these two teams.
So far this season both the Vols and the Gators have had positive moments against awful opponents, and gotten taken behind the woodshed by better squads. Tennessee and Florida each have new head coaches that will be experiencing this rivalry for the first time (although UF’s Dan Mullen was an assistant coach under Urban Meyer for the Gators in the 2000s).
That all said, neither program resembles their glory days. This used to be the de facto SEC title game. This year it looks more like a battle to see who stays out of the division cellar.
The good news for Tennessee is that it has an improving quarterback. Jarrett Guarantano isn’t forcing the football into places it shouldn’t be thrown. In three games he’s completed 72% of his passes, without a turnover. For the Vols to have a chance to pull the upset (at last check Florida was about a five point favorite), they must continue to hang onto the football. As a unit the Tennessee offense has only one turnover this season.
Defensively, the Vols have only allowed three points the past two games, but ETSU and UTEP were never going to light up the scoreboard.
As for Florida, Mullen is publicly supporting his quarterback, Feleipe Franks, but he has to be concerned. Franks is only completing 53% of his throws, and appeared rattled in the loss to Kentucky on September 8. A solid start by the Tennessee defensive line (which has yet to produce consistent pressure this year) could be a difference maker.
Florida’s defense isn’t bad, forcing eight turnovers thus far. The Vols will likely try to take a page out of Kentucky’s playbook and work the clock while keeping the football primarily on the ground. This means large doses of Ty Chandler and Tim Jordan. Look for Guarantano to run more often as well.
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