Gameday: (18) Florida Gators at (23) Tennessee

Location: Neyland Stadium – Knoxville, TN [Capacity: 102,455]
Weather Forecast: 78°F, mostly cloudy, winds NNE at 4 mph
Time: 6:00 p.m. EDT

TV: ESPN/ESPNHD (Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe)
SiriusXM: 137/201 | Radio: Gator Radio Network (affiliates)
Online Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

(18) FLORIDA GATORS (23) TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Derek Dooley
Record: 2-0 (1-0 SEC) Record: 2-0 (0-0 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida +3; O/U 48

HOMEWORK

Need to catch up on what happened with the Gators over the last week? No problem. OGGOA has been here the whole time posting a ton of information so you can do your homework on the team before its next exam on Saturday.

Florida one win away from hitting “start fast” goal | Pease: Offensive line remains the strength | Freshmen contributing defensively | QB Driskel, TE Reed can get offense rolling | Gators are tougher, more experienced

EXTRA CREDIT: Four things Florida must do to take down Tennessee in Knoxville

HISTORY / STREAKS

» Florida is looking to extend its seven-game winning streak against Tennessee, which dates back to 2005. The Gators are 22-19 all-time against the Volunteers but just 11-10 in Knoxville. Additionally, UF is 20-6 against UT (9-4 in Knoxville) since 1976.
» Saturday’s game will be featured as the host site for ESPN’s College GameDay. It is the 23rd time (15-7) that Florida will be on the road for College GameDay and the team’s 34th occasion in which they have been featured on the program. The Gators were the visiting team for College GameDay last week as well and defeated Texas A&M.
» It is the seventh time in the history of the television program that UF-UT will be featured on College GameDay (second-most all-time). ESPN will be in Knoxville with the show for the first time since 2004.
» Florida is 9-1 against unranked opponents and 0-5 against ranked teams since Muschamp took over the program in 2011. Tennessee is 13-4 against unranked teams and 0-10 against ranked opponents since Dooley took the helm in 2010.
» Muschamp and Dooley know each other well having previously worked together under head coach Nick Saban at LSU (2001-04) and with the Miami Dolphins (2005).
» The Gators and Vols are both ranked heading into their showdown for the first time since 2007. UT is ranked for the first time, period, in 64 polling weeks.
» For the first time since 1996, Florida was not slated to open its SEC schedule against Tennessee (UF played TAMU last weekend). The Gators and Volunteers game will not be aired by CBS at 3:30 p.m. for the first time in eight years.
» UF won its eighth-straight league opener last Saturday.
» Florida was 0-5 when trailing at the half in 2011 but has started the 2012 season 1-0 in that category after outscoring Texas A&M 10-0 in the second half last Saturday.
» The Gators are 5-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards and 0-4 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards. Florida is also 6-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points and 6-3 when scoring first.
» UF has converted just 8-of-28 third-down attempts (28.6 percent) this season.
» The Gators have held their opponents to 8-of-31 on third down (25.8 percent); UF was second nationally in third-down defense (27.3 percent) last season.
» Florida has at least two kickoff returns for touchdowns in each of the last two seasons after never having more than one in a single season before 2010.
» The Gators are outscoring opponents 23-7 in the second half and 17-0 in the fourth quarter through two games this season.
» Florida’s defense is one of 10 nationally that has not allowed a passing touchdown.
» Tennessee’s offense has eclipsed 500 total yards in consecutive games for the first time since 2000 and hit that mark in its first two games for the first time in school history.
» The Volunteers are ninth nationally in passing offense (353.5 yards per game) and 15th nationally in scoring offense (43 points per game).
» Tennessee has four scoring drives of 34 or fewer seconds through two games.
» The Vols are 10-1 under Dooley when eclipsing 25 points (13-3 when scoring 20+).
» Tennessee’s defense is +3 in turnover margin this season and nabbed four interceptions against N.C. State in the teams’ season opener.

LAST TIME OUT

Florida captured its seventh-straight victory over Tennessee when the programs met last season with the Gators defeating the Volunteers 33-23 in Gainesville, FL. UF took an early 16-0 lead on UT thanks in part to three field goals by Caleb Sturgis though Tennessee scored just before the half to reduce their deficit to 17-6. Florida wasted little time in expanding their lead, scoring two touchdowns (one an 83-yard pass from John Brantley to Chris Rainey) in the first seven minutes of the third quarter to jump ahead 30-7. The Gators’ defense softened from there as the Vols outscored them 17-3 over the remainder of the game, but Florida’s early lead catapulted them to victory and their seventh consecutive 3-0 record to start the season.

ESPN: KEYS TO THE GAME

Read the rest of the Florida-Tennessee preview including injuries and absences and which players to look out for from both sides of the field.

INJURIES AND ABSENCES*

» Active (4): Senior running back Mike Gillislee (groin), senior safety Josh Evans (shoulder), sophomore defensive back De’Ante Saunders (“hamstring”), freshman tight end Kent Taylor (concussion)
» Inactive (9): Redshirt junior linebacker Jelani Jenkins (thumb), junior DB Cody Riggs (foot), junior long snapper Drew Ferris (collarbone), redshirt junior tackle Matt Patchan (pectoral), redshirt freshman guard Tommy Jordan (shoulder), junior Buck LB Ronald Powell (ACL), freshman TE Colin Thompson (foot), redshirt junior DE Kedric Johnson (knee), senior defensive lineman Nick Alajajian (knee)

* As of Sept. 14 at 5 p.m. (will be updated closer to the game).

PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

FLORIDA
» Senior running back Mike Gillislee (#23)…who is entrenched as the Gators’ starter, a role he has worked towards achieving over four years. He registered career-highs in carries (24) and rushing yards (148) in the season opener and has averaged 6.1 yards per carry this season while scoring a pair of touchdowns in each of the first two games. Gillislee leads the SEC in rushing yards (231) and rushing touchdowns (4).
» Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel (#6)…who was officially named the starter last week after playing most of Florida’s season opener. He has completed 71.9 percent of his passes (23-of-32) this season for 276 yards and one touchdown and is steadily improving with each passing game.
» Redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed (#11)…who is leading the Gators in receptions (8) and receiving yards (92) through two games. Reed became a full-time tight end in 2011 but missed four games that season due to injury. He has the ability to be a major receiving threat and big-time mis-match for Florida offensively.
» Redshirt junior wide receiver Andre Debose (#4)…who has yet to put it all together on offense but is a dynamic kick returner for Florida. He did have consecutive games with 65-yard touchdown receptions in 2011 but finished the season with just 16 total receptions for 432 yards and four touchdowns. He has yet to catch a ball in 2012. Redshirt senior Frankie Hammond, Jr. (#85) has the team’s lone receiving touchdown.
» Senior Mike linebacker Jon Bostic (#1)…who is the straw that stirs the drink for the Gators on defense. He is second on the team in tackles with 13 (10 solo) and leads Florida with three tackles behind the line of scrimmage including one sack.
» Sophomore cornerback Marcus Roberson (#5)…who has stepped into the role of covering the opponent’s best receiver despite only being a second-year player. Roberson suffered a serious neck injury that cut his 2011 season short but has come back strong this year. He has UF’s only interception on the season and leads both the Gators and SEC with five total pass breakups in 2012 (including the pick).
» Juniors defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (#94) and defensive end Dominique Easley (#2)…who are back playing their natural positions after being swapped last season due to depth and personnel issues. Both players are five-star prospects who joined Florida out of high school in 2010 as part of one of the best recruiting classes in school history. The duo has combined for 16 tackles (three for lost yardage) already this year.
» Junior safety Matt Elam (#22)…who has grown into his role as a leader and may very well be the Gators’ most dynamic playmaker on defense. He has 106 career tackles (68 solo, 12.0 for loss) along with three sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and two interceptions already in his career.
» Redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis (#19)…who is starting for Florida for the fourth-straight season. He was one of three kickers nationally to convert three or more field goals of 50+ yards in 2011 and was named as a finalist for the Lou Groza Award for a top-notch campaign that included him going 22-for-26 on field goals and a perfect 31-for-31 on extra points. Sturgis, who has already kicked three of the four longest field goals of all-time for the Gators, is just 18 made field goals away from passing Jeff Chandler’s 67 for most in school history.

TENNESSEE
» Junior QB Tyler Bray (#8)…who is already top-10 in school history in touchdown passes, passing yards and completions. He is 10-4 as a starter for UT and is currently fifth nationally in passing efficiency and 11th in passing yards per game (321.5). Bray threw three touchdowns and gained 288 yards through the air against UF in 2011 but also tossed two interceptions and was just 26-of-48 overall.
» Junior RB Rajion Neal (#20)…who stepped into the starting role this season and has already scored three touchdowns through two games. Neal, however, is gaining just 3.4 yards per carry and is going up against a Gators defense that shut down the Vols, limiting the team to -9 net yards of rushing in 2011.
» Junior WR Justin Hunter (#11)…who is one of the top pass-catchers in the nation and scored three touchdowns last week alone. He was equally dangerous in 2011 but tore his ACL against Florida and missed the remainder of the season. Hunter is currently ranked top-15 nationally in receptions (17) and receiving yards (219).
» Junior WR Cordarrelle Patterson (#84)…who is another big-time receiving threat for Tennessee. A JUCO transfer, Patterson has already amassed 360 all-purpose yards in two games. He is second on the team with nine receptions for 164 yards and a TD.
» Junior Jack LB Jacques Smith (#55) and sophomore Sam LB Curt Maggitt (#56)…who are a pair of impact players on a Volunteers’ defense that is still coming into its own. Maggitt missed the team’s second game with a toe injury but amassed five tackles (four solo) and one sack in the season opener against N.C. State. Smith starts at the equivalent of Florida’s Buck LB position and had 7.5 tackles for loss in 2011.

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2 Responses to “Gameday: (18) Florida Gators at (23) Tennessee”

  1. Basshole says:

    Big game tonight…. Let’s go, Gators!

  2. Ken (CA) says:

    wow, these penalties at critical times gonna give me a heart attack…i liked it better when we were winning by 30 or 40 and didnt have to pull it out in the 4th qtr

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