The Florida Gators aim to bounce back from a two-point loss to Alabama a week ago - and, simultaneously, keep their momentum flowing as the Gators made it a closer game than anyone in America imagined - with a strong showing at home against the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday.
The AllGators staff is fairly confident that the Gators will be able to accomplish both, as seen by our predictions below.
SI Sportsbook lists the Gators as 19-point favorites over the Volunteers with the over/under set at 63.5. Staff records provided below are not against the spread, however.
Zach Goodall: Florida 31, Tennessee 17
Tennessee's football program essentially started anew this year following the dismissal of head coach Jeremy Pruitt and the resignation of athletic director Phillip Fulmer. The early results for Josh Heupel and Danny White, the respective hires at those positions following their time at UCF, have been positive as the Volunteers are off to a 2-1 start, but the program has along, long way to go before it can truly become competitive again.
The team lost more talent to the transfer portal than any squad in the nation this offseason, and was forced to reload at just about every position. Naturally, chemistry is still being developed and questions at certain positions remain unanswered. That isn't a formula that Tennessee can enter The Swamp with and expect a win over the No. 11 team in the country.
I think Tennessee's up-tempo offense will create issues for Florida in moments, but not enough to make this game any closer than two touchdowns in UF's favor by the end. The Gators have rushed for over 1,000 yards in three games, including 246 against Alabama - they should have no issue doing the same against UT, and in doing so, UF should find a way to control the clock to combat Tennessee's tempo and build a lead that the Volunteers can't keep up with.
Demetrius Harvey (3-0): Florida 42, Tennessee 20
The Florida Gators face an intriguing challenge on Saturday as they work to prove themselves as one of the elite teams in all of college football. Against a rookie head coach in Josh Heupel and the Tennessee Volunteers, the Gators ought to be able to assert its dominance in its first SEC East matchup of the season.
Florida will be down a couple of key starters, but it shouldn’t matter as they’ll likely run the football at will on Saturday forcing Tennessee to speed up its already high-tempo offense. I believe Florida will effortlessly beat Tennessee, barring any weather concerns, and I don’t see the Vols covering. Not this year at least.
Brandon Carroll (3-0): Florida 37, Tennessee 14
The way Tennessee has performed until this point in the season creates little worry that the Gators won’t be able to make it out of The Swamp alive on Saturday night.
Undergoing turnover at several key positions — both coaching and player personnel — Tennessee is in the early stages of a program rebuild, which opens the door for the already established Gators to make a statement at home at the Volunteers' expense.
I think that’s what will happen, but after another slow start.
Tennessee’s tempo offensively has the ability to give the Gators defense fits early on in the ball game, especially given the constant rotation of Todd Grantham’s unit. The defense takes a minute to find its footing but shuts down the Vols once they do so.
Meanwhile, I think Emory Jones continues to build on the confidence he established last weekend and turns in his first non-turnover performance of the season. As a result, Florida wins handily.
Ethan Budowsky (3-0): Florida 48, Tennessee 17
The Gators are coming off a crushing loss to Alabama and they need to avoid a letdown. Florida has said all week that they are taking no moral victories from playing Bama close, but a lot of people are really excited about how good they looked. The Gators have to avoid a letdown against a Tennessee team that they are simply on a different level from, or even worse getting beat by Bama twice.
I don’t expect anything of the sort to happen. I think the Gators will be motivated to get a big win against a rival and roll right over Tennessee. Mullen has not lost to the Vols as head coach and he’s taken care of business every single year. The two programs are simply too far apart, I like the Gators big this weekend.
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