Before falling to Tennessee in Knoxville last fall, the Florida Gators had lost to the Vols only six times since the 1990 season.
So, what are the chances the Gators will rebound against the Vols on Saturday? History says they are very good, excellent, as a matter of fact.
After five of those loses, Florida responded with a win over Tennessee. The only time over that 26-year span that the Vols won back-to-back games in the rivalry was in 2003-04 against Ron Zook.
Here’s a look at Florida’s losses and rebound wins vs. Tennessee:
The loss (45-3): In Steve Spurrier’s first season, it looked like the 1990 UF-UT game was going to be a defensive struggle, with the Vols leading only 7-3 at the half. But Dale Carter returned the second-half kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown, triggering the rout.
The rebound (35-18): The Gators took care of the Vols on their way to winning the school’s first SEC title. Shane Matthews threw for 245 yards and two touchdowns and Larry Kennedy returned an interception 44 yards for a touchdown.
The loss (31-14): Many figured that this would be one of Spurrier’s weaker teams and it turned out to be, at least early in the season. Matthews and the inexperienced UF offensive line were physically overwhelmed in the loss in Knoxville. Despite another SEC loss at Mississippi State a week later, the Gators went on to win the first SEC East title.
The rebound (41-34): The week after throwing the last-second winning touchdown pass to Chris Doering at Kentucky (“Doering’s got a touchdown, Doering’s got a touchdown!”), Danny Wuerffel passed the Gators past Heath Shuler and the Vols at Florida Field.
The loss (20-17 OT): Florida’s Collins Cooper missed a 32-yard field goal attempt in overtime and the Vols ended a five-game losing streak to the Gators. Cooper’s miss was greeted with great glee at Neyland Stadium, with the fans storming the field and tearing down the goalposts.
The rebound (23-21): Thanks in part to a five-sack performance by defensive end Alex Brown, the Gators upset the defending national champions. Doug Johnson threw for 343 yards and two touchdowns and Jeff Chandler made three field goals for the Gators.
The loss (34-32): In what would be Spurrier’s last time coaching the Gators in The Swamp, the Vols upset UF to win the SEC East title. Travis Stephens killed the Gators, rushing for 226 yards and two touchdowns. Rex Grossman threw for 362 yards for UF, but his two-point pass attempt in the closing seconds fell incomplete.
The rebound (30-13): On a rainy day in Knoxville, the Gators executed and the Vols did not, giving Zook a huge upset win against the No. 4 Vols. Grossman threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns, two to wide receiver Taylor Jacobs.
The loss (30-28): In a bitter loss that would contribute to Zook’s downfall later in the season, James Wilhoit’s 50-yard field goal with only six seconds remaining won it for the Vols, giving UT rare back-to-back wins in the rivalry. Chris Leak threw for three TDs in a losing cause.
The rebound (16-7): In Urban Meyer’s first SEC game, the Gators were the stronger team in a defensive battle. Wide receiver Bubba Caldwell scored on an 18-yard reverse and Chris Hetland made three field goals to lead the way. UF held UT to 213 yards of offense.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or email@example.com. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.