Let’s get one thing straight right out of the gate – Vol Nation would do immoral and unethical things for the Vols to beat Florida on Saturday and end this 10-game losing streak.
But, history says it doesn’t matter how much Tennessee fans are willing to sacrifice to the college football gods. Rather, it matters which team runs the ball better.
In fact, since 2000 only twice has the winner of this heated rivalry had fewer rushing yards than the losing team (2000 and 2002). And if ever there were a year where the Vols, at least on paper, have the better rushing attack, it’s this year.
So far this season Tennessee has tallied 738 rushing yards to Florida’s 510 – and considering Florida’s came against (insert sarcasm here) powerhouse teams New Mexico State, Eastern Carolina and Kentucky, one would think Tennessee definitely has the edge on the ground.
Last year, the Vols only had 28 rushing yards against the Gators. But that was with an immobile Justin Worley at quarterback and one of the worst offensive lines the program has ever seen. And while the offensive line isn’t exactly stacked with future NFL talent, it’s certainly much improved. Add in an elusive quarterback in Joshua Dobbs and an extremely talented Alvin Kamara to pair with the clydesdale work-horse that is Jalen Hurd and last year’s offense isn’t even comparable.
Before the Gators came to Knoxville last year, Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis knew how important it would be to stop Tennessee’s rushing attack. He even went as far to say “I don’t think he (Hurd) can hang with us. He’s a good athlete, but we’ve got a whole defense coming for him.” And to his credit, he backed it up as Hurd was held in check most of the game.
But this Tennessee team is much different than it was a year ago – especially on the ground. And one has to wonder if that will be the X-factor once again to winning this rivalry game.
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