Abolverdi's Analysis: Vols' recent games at Florida have been close, but this one won't be
Florida-Tennessee is still a rivalry game based on tradition, but not recent results.
UF's Dan Mullen was the quarterbacks coach at Utah when the Vols last won in The Swamp (2003). They’ve lost by one possession in two of their last three trips to Gainesville, but the 34-3 loss two years ago was their fewest points scored in the series since 1994.
Saturday’s matchup will play out more like the 2019 game than the thrilling finishes in ’17 and ’15.
Mullen is in his fourth season at UF and has built a roster that can compete with Nick Saban’s squad. First-year coach Josh Heupel, however, inherited a mess in Knoxville and suffered several key transfers in the offseason.
The Vols simply don’t have enough talent to compete in this game.
A trend in the series has been whichever team rushes for the most yards comes out victorious. This year’s matchup pits Florida’s top-five rushing offense against Tennessee’s top-five rushing defense.
The Gators showed their rushing attack was legit last week with 245 yards against Alabama. The Vols — who’ve yet to be challenged on the ground by Bowling Green, Pittsburgh or Tennessee Tech — are in for a rude awakening Saturday.
The night also won’t go well for Tennessee’s offense. Regardless of who starts at quarterback, it’s been awhile since transfers Hendon Hooker (Virginia Tech) and Joe Milton III (Michigan) played in an atmosphere like The Swamp.
The night crowd is going to cause some pre-snap issues for Hooker or Milton, and Florida’s front seven might be the most difficult pass rush they face this season. The Vols will try to offset that pressure with their up-tempo attack, so it’s critical for UF to line up fast and avoid missed tackles.
Tennessee should be able to put together a couple successful drives, especially early on with scripted plays. But once the Gators settle in defensively, they will run away with this one and extend their home winning streak in the rivalry to nine games.
Prediction: Florida 49, Tennessee 10