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History Says Ground Game is Key to Victory vs. Florida

Jalen Hurd-1

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.

Year UF Rush Yds UT Rush Yds WINNER SCORE
 2000  39  219  Florida  23-27
2001 36 242 Tennessee 34-32
2002 94 99 Florida 30-13
2003 73 139 Tennessee 24-10
2004 135 171 Tennessee 30-28
2005 68 66 Florida 16-7
2006 121 -11 Florida 21-20
2007 255 37 Florida 59-20
2008 147 96 Florida 30-6
2009 208 117 Florida 23-13
2010 150 29 Florida 31-17
2011 134 -9 Florida 33-23
2012  336 83 Florida 37-20
2013  215 66 Florida 31-17
2014  156 28 Florida 10-9

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