David Bradford
Wednesday September 21st, 2016

Tennessee fans aren't a little "stitious" like Michael Scott. They're superstitious.

With a matchup against Florida around the corner, fans are slowly losing confidence in the Vols' chances of ending their 11-year losing streak to the Gators thanks to a number of unsettling circumstances.

But believe it or not, that list is the condensed version of all the voodoo placed on Tennessee this weekend.

Here's the full list.

Curse No. 1: Tennessee is implementing Checker Neyland

In theory, Checker Neyland is a neat fan gimmick. In reality, it's voodoo.

The concept of Checker Neyland is simple: Depending on what section a fan is sitting in, they either don an orange or white shirt, thus creating a Neyland-sized checkerboard pattern.

The results have been devastating.

In its brief history, the Vols are 0–2 when Checker Neyland is implemented. Both were heartbreaking losses.

First, there was Tennessee's loss to Florida in 2014. Then, there was the Vols' loss to Oklahoma in 2015. Against the Gators, Tennessee held a 9-0 fourth quarter lead, but eventually lost 10–9. Against the Sooners, the Vols held a 17–3 fourth quarter lead, but eventually lost 31–24 in overtime.

During the offseason, instead of predetermining which game would be checkered, the fans were granted the opportunity to decide. And now, Checker Neyland makes its triumphant return against Florida on Saturday, much to the chagrin of Tennessee fans everywhere.

Cursed.

Curse No. 2: Tennessee is hosting College Gameday

For the second time this season, the College Gameday crew will be present for a game involving the Vols (the first was at the Battle at Bristol against Virginia Tech). Excitement normally follows Gameday wherever they go, but considering Tennessee has lost its previous five games when Lee Corso and the crew set camp in Knoxville, the fans might exchange signs for pitchforks.

To make matters worse, Tennessee is 0–4 all-time against Florida when Gameday comes to Rocky Top.

Cursed.

Curse No. 3: Tennessee is facing a Florida backup quarterback

Gators' quarterback Luke Del Rio suffered a knee injury against North Texas and is unavailable this Saturday, leaving backup Austin Appleby with the responsibility of leading the Florida offense into a hostile environment.

Advantage: Vols … right?

The last two Florida quarterbacks that defeated Tennessee—Treon Harris and Will Grier—began their respective seasons as back-ups. Both quarterbacks orchestrated game-winning drives that left Knoxville in a state of disbelief.

Cursed.

Curse No. 4: Tennessee is playing on CBS at 3:30 p.m. ET

As the old saying goes, nothing good ever happens on CBS at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Last season, the Gators defeated the Vols 28–27 after a miracle 63-yard touchdown from Antonio Callaway on a fourth-and-14.

The station the game was on? CBS. The time the game started? 3:30 p.m. ET.

Cursed.

Curse No. 5: Tennessee is favored

Normally, teams that are favored are perceived as the better team. Tennessee was favored over Florida last season despite playing in The Swamp. We all know how that game played out.

Currently, Tennessee is a 6.5-point favorite.

Cursed.

Curse No. 6: Tennessee is wearing the Smokey Grey uniforms

As beautiful as the Smokey Grey uniforms are, Tennessee is 1–2 when wearing them and was a miracle comeback against Georgia away from being 0–3.

Given all the circumstances that already existed, Vol Nation couldn't handle another curse.

Then, before the clock struck noon on Monday, the final nail was hammered into Tennessee's coffin.

Curse No. 7: Lil B (aka The Based God) refuses to curse Florida

With two words ("Go Florida") an entire fan base collectively dropped their sweet teas in slow motion and froze in fear, knowing that the apocalypse was about to hit East Tennessee.

A curse from Lil B is a true game changer. Not only is the Based God a prolific rapper, but his curses work with stunning success. He's cursed superstars such as Kevin Durant and James Harden. His success rate is the same as Florida's against the Vols since 2005—100%.

Although he didn't specifically curse Tennessee, his support of the Gators is an indirect curse.

It wasn't too long after that Vol fans began begging for mercy.

Logic says that aside from Florida's quarterback situation, none of the aforementioned examples will have an effect on the game's outcome. However, fans on Twitter and logic mix like water and oil.

Now that there seems to be a new curse added to Saturday's game every day, supporters of the Orange and White are searching for any silver lining amidst the dark clouds of Florida week.

David Bradford is SI's campus correspondent for the University of Tennessee. Follow him on Twitter.


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