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.
Continue Reading » Gameday: (18) Florida Gators at (23) Tennessee

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Florida plays rocky, still tops Tennessee 31-17

Head coach Urban Meyer improved to 6-0 against one of his team’s greatest rivals as the No. 7/10 Florida Gators (3-0) overcame a rough start to defeat the Tennessee Volunteers (1-2) 31-17 on the road at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, TN, on Saturday.

Florida started slow in the first quarter when a poor snap by senior center Mike Pouncey on third-and-long forced the Gators to punt. On the next offensive drive, UF stalled after failing to convert a one-yard run on two consecutive plays, turning the ball over on downs on the Tennessee 46.

With good field position, the Volunteers took advantage of the miscue, drove 25 yards and allowed kicker Daniel Lincoln to curve in a 49-yard field goal to put UT up 3-0 going into the second quarter.

The Gators’ offense was kick-started on its next possession when redshirt junior wide receiver Deonte Thompson helped out redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley with a 16-yard catch for a first down on 2nd and 11. Freshman WR Robert Clark kept the drive alive with an eight-yard reception for another first down, allowing sophomore running back Mike Gillislee to score a touchdown from two yards out.

Tennessee was in the process of going three-and-out on its next drive, until junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins muffed a 43-yard punt giving the Vols the ball at Florida’s 40. However, sophomore linebacker Jon Bostic would bail Jenkins out four plays later, intercepting a pass from QB Matt Simms in the end zone on 3rd and goal.

Going into the half with a tight 7-3 lead, the Gators were hoping to dominate the second portion of the game just as they had their two previous contests. Things seemed to be going well early in the third quarter, when junior kicker Caleb Sturgis connected on a 44-yard field goal to cap a 10-play, 54-yard drive and give UF a 10-3 lead.

That advantage would be short lived as Simms found a wide open WR Denarius Moore for a 49-yard touchdown early in Tennessee’s next possession. Coverage of Moore was blown by redshirt sophomore CB Jeremy Brown, who gave up a 15-yard reception one play earlier and did not receive any help from junior safety Will Hill (starting his first game of the season) on the subsequent play.

With the score tied at 10 and the Gators on the verge of punting from their own 39, Meyer called a game breaking fake punt to turn the tide. Sophomore WR Omarius Hines took a direct snap 36 yards to the Volunteers’ 25, turning the game around. Redshirt senior Carl Moore made a leaping first down catch to keep the drive going, and Brantley competed a seven-yard touchdown pass to redshirt sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. six plays later to give the Gators a 17-10 lead.

“The momentum switched in this stadium. Once that momentum goes, it’s hard to get it back,” said Meyer after the game about the call. Hines noted the impact of the play to ESPN. “That was a big boost because we really needed that,” he said. “We were struggling in the first half, and I’m glad I could boost the team back up.”

Hoping to redeem himself for his earlier gaffe, Brown intercepted Simms on Tennessee’s next drive. Florida handed the ball back to Gillislee who, five plays and 41 yards later, tumbled into the end zone to give the Gators a 24-10 lead.

UF achieved back-to-back sacks on Simms courtesy of redshirt senior defensive tackle Brandon Antwine and redshirt freshman LB Jelani Jenkins, knocking the Vols back to the one-yard line. Though a safety call was overturned by video replay, Tennessee punted the ball to midfield. The Gators failed to capitalize as junior RB Jeff Demps was stripped by LB Austin Johnson on 2nd down, keeping the Volunteers alive.

Backed up with a 3rd and 25, Simms completed a 19-yard pass to WR Luke Stocker giving his team the opportunity to go for it on 4th down. Stocker’s reception became integral for Simms, who found WR Justin Hunter wide open in Florida’s end zone for a 35-yard touchdown on blown coverage by Hill.

With their lead reduced to seven, the Gators struck again on the very next drive. Thompson caught a 24-yard pass to get the series going, and Moore once again saved the effort by pulling down a 12-yard catch on 3rd and 9 at the Vols’ 27. From the Wildcat formation, freshman QB Trey Burton rushed for a two-yard touchdown four plays later to give Florida a 31-17 lead.

After struggling to get going, the Gators posted 317 total yards of offense, were 8-of-14 on third down and controlled the clock for 36:46. Brantley finished 14-of-23 for 167 yards and a score, Demps took a career-high 26 carries for 74 yards and Gillislee touched the ball eight times for 27 yards and two touchdowns. Thompson led Florida with four catches and 55 receiving yards.

Florida’s defense held Tennessee star running back Tauren Poole to 23 yards and a fumble (recovered by freshman S Matt Elam on 10 carries, but Simms did well through the air, going 19-of-31 for 259 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

The Gators hope to continue building momentum next week when they return home to take on the Kentucky Wildcats. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.; the game will air live on ESPNU.

Game Notes:
- Five-star freshman defensive end Ronald Powell had the first sack of his career.
- Meyer is 6-0 against Tennessee in his Florida career.
- Meyer is now eight-for-eight in fake punt calls with the Gators.
- Hammond’s touchdown was also his first reception of the season.

Photo Credit: Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

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TWO BITS: Recruiting weekend, FWAA awards

It has been a slow weekend as far as Florida Gators news goes, but OGGOA has done its best Sunday morning to provide you with a few notes to wrap up the weekend. Expect more from us later in the day, so stay tuned!

1 » A dozen Gators commits and recruiting prospects including five-star safety Matt Elam (Fort Lauderdale, FL) visited Gainesville, FL, this weekend for official visits with Florida coaches, staff and current players. In what will be a crucial weekend for Gators’ recruiting after losing defensive coordinator Charlie Strong and wide receivers coach/recruiting coordinator Billy Gonzales to other schools, Florida hopes to secure commitments it has already received and establish new ones, possibly pulling players away from other teams. With National Signing Day approaching at the beginning of February and early enrollment for the spring semester (and spring practice) less than a month away, expect to hear a bunch of recruiting news come out over the next few days and weeks. Commits: Elam, four-star DE Neiron Ball (Jackson, GA), four-star OT Ian Silberman (Fleming Island, FL), four-star ATH Travon Van (New Berlin, NY), four-star CB Jaylen Watkins (Cape Coral, FL), three-star QB Trey Burton (Venice, FL) – Recruits: five-star LB Jordan Hicks (West Chester, OH), four-star WR Chris Dunkley (Pahokee, FL), four-star WR Justin Hunter (Virginia Beach, VA), four-star OT Morgan Moses (Fork Union, VA), four-star C Brandon Linder (Fort Lauderdale, FL), three-star CB Robert Clark (West Palm Beach, FL).

2 » Though senior quarterback Tim Tebow came in fifth in Saturday’s 2009 Heisman Trophy ceremony, two of his teammates were awarded honors of their own. Juniors cornerback Joe Haden and center Maurkice Pouncey were both named to the 2009 Football Writers Association of America All-America Team. Both are seemingly racking up All-America honors this season, which bodes well for them considering they are (likely) heading into the 2010 NFL Draft.

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