The Tennessee Volunteers have a chance to finally end their losing streak to Florida this Saturday when the two teams meet in Knoxville for their annual rivalry. The streak was pushed to 11 games after last year’s 28-27 loss in Gainesville.
On the surface, the 11-game losing streak alone is an impressive (or depressing if you’re a Vol fan) number in itself. But when you dig deeper and look at the numbers hidden within the losing streak, it becomes even more apparent just how badly the Gators have dominated the Vols for the last decade-plus.
Here is an extensive breakdown of the last 11 years in the Tennessee-Florida series.
This series has seen a number of head coaches lead both teams. But one thing has never changed: The Gators keep beating Tennessee.
Florida has had three different head coaches beat the Vols over the last 11 years. Urban Meyer did it six times, Will Muschamp did it four times, and current Florida head coach Jim McElwain has done it once.
Tennessee has had four different head coaches during this losing streak. Phillip Fulmer was around for four losses, Lane Kiffin stuck around for only one, Derek Dooley saw three, and Butch Jones has seen three so far.
But that’s just the head coaches.
The Vols have lost to seven different quarterbacks during the losing streak. Chris Leak, Tim Tebow, John Brantley, Jeff Driskel, and Will Grier have all started and beaten the Vols. Tyler Murphy and Treon Harris both came in as backups during the game and beat the Vols as well.
In fact, two of the Vols’ last three losses to Florida have come at the hands of backup quarterbacks who have come in mid-game. Austin Appleby will be making the start for the Gators this year, and he’s the backup to injured starter Luke Del Rio.
The Scoring Difference
In the 11 games the Vols have lost to Florida, they’ve lost by an average score of 29-16.3. But that doesn’t even begin to explain the scoring difference.
During the 11-game losing streak, the Vols have never scored more than 27 points. In fact, they’ve only scored 20 or more points five times during the streak. Florida, on the other hand, has scored 27 or more points seven times during the streak.
Under Urban Meyer, the Gators won by an average score of 30-13.8. Muschamp’s Gators won by an average of 27.8-17.3, and McElwain’s lone Florida team to this point won 28-27. On the flip side, the Vols lost by an average score of 31.5-18.3 under Fulmer, 23-13 in Lane Kiffin’s one match-up, 33.7-20 under Dooley, and have lost by an average of 23-17.7 under current head coach Butch Jones.
And when you take a look at the quarter-by-quarter scoring in the series, it become apparent where the Vols have struggled the most.
Tennessee has been outscored in every quarter of play by Florida during the 11-game losing streak. The Gators hold a 75-40 edge in the first quarter and just a 57-47 advantage in the second quarter. The second half is where it gets ugly, however. Florida holds a 99-45 edge in the third quarter over the Vols over the last 11 years, and they’ve outscored Tennessee 88-47 in the fourth quarter as well. Tennessee has never scored more than 10 points in a single quarter against Florida over the last 11 years. The Gators have scored 14 or more points in a single quarter nine times in the 44 quarters the two teams have played, including a 24-point outburst in the fourth quarter of the 2007 match-up.
Oddly enough, every single time the Vols have had a fourth quarter lead against the Gators over the last 11 years, they’ve gone on to lose by exactly one point each time. Tennessee had a fourth quarter lead over Florida in 2006, 2014, and 2015. The Vols lost 21-20 in 2006, 10-9 in 2014, and 28-27 last season.
When the game has been played at Neyland Stadium like it will be this year, the average score has been 25.8-14.4 in the Gators’ favor. Which shows that the games tend to be even more lopsided when played in The Swamp.
Running to Victory
One of the main reasons Florida has been able to win so much against Tennessee is because they’ve consistently beaten the Vols on the ground game in and game out.
Over the last 11 times Tennessee and Florida have faced each other, the Gators have had more rushing yards in 10 of the 11 games. And they’ve usually absolutely dominated that aspect of the match-up.
In total, the Gators have out-rushed the Vols 1,899 yards to 756 yards over the last 11 years. That’s an average of 172.6 yards to 68.7 yards per game. The Gators have scored 19 rushing touchdowns compared to the Vols’ six. Tennessee has twice rushed for negative yards (2006, 2011) against Florida and has only twice run for more than 100 yards (2009, 2015). Last season has been the only time the Vols have had more rushing yards than Florida, out-gaining them 254 yards to 109.
Watching Others Win
The last season the Vols beat Florida was in 2004. Since the end of that season, the Gators have lost 40 games to 14 different opponents. And some of the teams that have beaten Florida since Tennessee last did may surprise you.
Florida has lost to LSU seven times since the Vols last beat Florida. That’s the most any one team has beaten the Gators in that time span. Alabama has beaten Florida six times, andFlorida State has done it five times. What may surprise you is that South Carolina has also beaten the Gators five times since the start of the 2005 season, and Georgia has done it just four times. Auburn has defeated Florida three times, and Michigan has beaten the Gators twice.
Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Miami, and Louisville have all beaten Florida once in that 11-year span.
Some of the more ego-crushing losses the Gators have suffered since Tennessee last beat them have come at the hands of Missouri, Vanderbilt, and Georgia Southern. Missouri has beaten the Gators twice in the four years they’ve been in the SEC thus far. Both Vanderbilt and Georgia Southern own victories over the Gators as well.
Will It Finally End?
The Vols have a chance to end their suffering and the fan base’s misery this Saturday if they can finally pull out a victory and end the losing streak against the Gators. If they don’t these numbers will only be added to.
It’s time for the Vols to make this a true rivalry again.