Florida Gators football will look to continue its extended winning streak against the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday afternoon. The Gators are hoping to avoid falling to the Vols for the first time since 2004 as the teams meet in Gainesville, Florida.
Here’s a look ahead at Saturday’s game: what to know and how to watch the Gators.
Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather: 85°F (feels like 91°F), scattered thunderstorms (60% chance of rain), winds ENE at 5 mph
Time: 3:30 p.m. EDT
TV: CBS (Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson, Allie LaForce)
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter
Tale of the tape
|Florida Gators||Tennessee Volunteers|
|Head Coach: Jim McElwain||Head Coach: Butch Jones|
|Record: 3-0 (1-0 SEC)||Record: 2-1 (0-0 SEC)|
|Conference: Southeastern||Conference: Southeastern|
SEC Nation in Gainesville
Former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow returns to Florida as an analyst with SEC Network‘s SEC Nation pregame show, which will broadcast live from Plaza of the Americas on campus from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Tebow will be joined by host Joe Tessitore and analysts Marcus Spears and Paul Finebaum.
There will be plenty of Gators-related segments on the show, including Tebow interviewing senior defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard. There will be updated pictures and information here as the show is on the air.
“I think Tennessee is a really good football team. If they would have closed out and really played a second half against Oklahoma – played a little bit more free and to win – I think we would be talking about a top-15 football team. Because they weren’t able to finish out that game, that hurts a lot from the national recognition. They got a lot of talent – young talent, but Florida has a lot of young talent as well,” Tebow said during a media availability on Friday.
Asked how the Gators can get back to national relevance, Tebow said simply, “win,” noting that it could all start Saturday for Florida. “It just changes [momentum],” he added.
Spread: Florida +1 | O/U: 47.5
For the second consecutive week, the Gators have history on their side. Florida is on a 10-game winning streak against Tennessee dating back to 2005 and have won those contests by an average of 13.9 points. In those games, the Gators have only defeated the Vols by single digits three times, most recently last season’s 10-9 victory in Knoxville, Tennessee.
While UF is still in rebuilding mode in its first year under McElwain, UT was a preseason darkhorse to win the SEC East in its third year under Jones. The Vols are still looking for a signature victory and one over the Gators would certainly do, despite Florida being in the dumps as of late. Jones is 14-14 at Tennessee and recently blew a 17-3 halftime lead to Oklahoma, falling 31-24 in double overtime.
With Florida squeaking by Kentucky just one week after edging East Carolina, the momentum appears to be in favor of the visitors, especially considering the Gators are dealing with suspensions and injuries entering Saturday’s game. However, Florida does have home field advantage, which certainly counts for something in this series. The Gators’ defense may be one of the best in the nation, but it will be up to the offense to put enough points on the scoreboard to give its other unit some rest.
The public is in on Tennessee, flipping the line and making Florida a home dog in The Swamp, but the trends and projections undoubtedly lean toward the Gators, which could have a trick or two up their sleeves on Saturday. That’s the call, especially if you can get an extra half or full point before kickoff. Remember: star linebacker Curt Maggitt is out and Pig Howard is questionable. While it’s temping to pick the over on such a line, neither team should reach the end zone more than four times in this contest.
ATS picks: 3-0 | O/U picks: 3-0
Injuries and absences
» Active (2): Defensive end Alex McCalister (shoulder), quarterback/wide receiver Josh Grady (leg)
» Questionable/doubtful (4): Linebacker Jeremi Powell (leg), defensive back Kylan Johnson (ankle), defensive tackle Thomas Holley (hip), linebacker Matt Rolin (undisclosed)
» Out (6): Kicker Austin Hardin (undisclosed), quarterback Treon Harris (suspension), cornerback Jalen Tabor (suspension), linebacker Alex Anzalone (shoulder), running back Case Harrison (thumb), tight end C’yontai Lewis (hand)
» Junior cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III is “having some back issues” and visited a chiropractor on Friday night in order to address them, according to The Gainesville Sun‘s Pat Dooley.
Blue out / Uniforms
Though the Gators are not referring to it as a “blue out,” that’s exactly what Florida is doing for Saturday’s game against Tennessee. UF has run a campaign all week convincing fans to wear blue for the game, obviously to combat UT’s orange, which is the other kf Florida’a two primary colors.
“You have to make The Swamp a place that is intimidating, a place people fear when they come into. They don’t just have to fear the players and coaches or whatever the team brings but the atmosphere. When you come in here, it gets into the player’s head before they even get here. There’s a couple places like that,” Tebow said. “You want people to fear coming into The Swamp.”
The Gators will be wearing blue jerseys and pants along with their signature orange helmets.
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) September 26, 2015
The team captains, which change weekly, are solely responsible for choosing the uniforms ahead of each game.
Celebrity Mr. Two-Bits: Florida defensive end Alex Brown had one of the most dominant individual performances in team hustory back in 1999 when he sacked Tennessee quarterback Tee Martin five times and intercepted a pass in what would go on to be a 25-21 UF victory.
Brown returns to The Swamp on Saturday to lead the fans pre-game celebration as the celebrity Mr. Two-Bits.
» Florida 38-4 in the month of September since 2005.
» The Gators are looking to extend a 10-game winning streak against the Vols, which dates back to 2005.
» Florida has outscored Tennessee 291-152 in its 10 consecutive wins, earning victories in those games by an average of 13.9 points.
» UF is 25-19 all-time against UT dating back to 1916 but holds a 23-6 record since 1976. Florida is 12-5 all-time against Tennessee in Gainesville, 12-1 since 1977.
» The Gators and Vols will contest their game on CBS for the 18th time in the last 20 seasons. It will be the ninth time the game will kick off at 3:30 p.m. in that span.
» Florida and Tennessee opened the SEC schedule against each other nearly every season since 1996. The teams were each other’s second SEC opponent in 2012, third in 2014 and second this season.
» UF and UT are meeting as unranked teams for the second consecutive year after not doing so prior to 1955. It is the first time since 1955 that the Gators and Vols will play as unranked opponents in The Swamp.
» The Gators have opened the SEC slate with a victory in 12 straight seasons.
» Florida is 167-16 since 1990 against unranked opponents.
» UF in 2015 will face eight bowl teams, six ranked in the preseason AP Top 25.
» The Gators’ defense has been a hallmark of the program; it are 197-11 since 1990 when an opponent scores 21 points or fewer in a contest.
» Florida’s defense has forced the most turnovers in the SEC since 2000 (402).
» The Gators are tied for the nation’s longest streak of returning either a kickoff or punt for a touchdown, doing so in 10 straight seasons.
» Florida is one of only four teams nationally to play three or more consecutive games away from home in 2015 (Arkansas, Arkansas State, Louisiana-Monroe).
» The Gators have the nation’s third-best home winning percentage since 1990 (.850). UF is 66-7 against nonconference opponents and 111-10 against unranked teams in that span.
» Florida has the second-most wins in the nation since 1990 (242, Ohio State – 250).
Go Gators! Swamp gonna be crazy ! #BeatTennessee
— Jaylen Watkins (@jwat14) September 26, 2015
Let’s go gators !!!!!🐊🐊🐊
— BrandonSpikes55 (@brandonspikes55) September 26, 2015