SEC Media Days always draws its fair share of headlines from coaches, players, or analysts making bold claims for the upcoming season. And this year’s installment is turning out no differently.
SEC Network analyst and former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy was talking about the Florida Gators after Florida head coach Dan Mullen spoke to the media during Tuesday’s session of the 2018 SEC Media Days. He brought up the Tennessee-Florida rivalry and specifically commented on this year’s match-up.
“At Tennessee is interesting, just because it’s always an interesting game,” McElroy said per quotes from Michael Bratton on Twitter. “Florida is better than Tennessee and should win that game convincingly.”
The last time Tennessee and Florida met in Neyland Stadium, the Vols used a furious comeback in the second half to down the Gators 38-28, ending their 11-game losing streak to Florida in the process. Last year, the Vols lost to Florida on a last-second touchdown in Gainesville, 26-20.
McElroy’s statement that the Gators should “win that game convincingly” is interesting given the recent history of the rivalry. The last four contests between Tennessee and Florida have been decided by an average of 4.5 points, and the largest margin of victory actually came from the Vols when they won by 10 points in 2016. Otherwise, the rivalry has been decided by one score since the 2014 contest.
Historically, the Gators hold a 27-20 edge over the Vols, and the match-up has been a very close one over the life of the rivalry. Those 47 contests have been decided by an average score of 21.4 to 20.7 in favor of Florida.
But recent history doesn’t match up with how the game has historically gone since the two teams became annual rivals.
Since the two teams started playing each other annually in 1990, Florida has beaten Tennessee 21 of the 28 times the two teams have played. Over those 28 games, the average margin of victory has been 12.8 points. The match-up has been decided by a single score only 11 of the 28 times the two teams have played since 1990. In Knoxville, the average margin of victory has been 13.5 points, and Tennessee has earned five of their seven victories over the Gators since 1990 at home.
Both Florida and Tennessee finished with just four wins last season. The Gators went 4-7 and only played in 11 regular season games after they had to cancel their game against Northern Colorado on September 9th due to Hurricane Irma. The Vols went 4-8 overall and 0-8 in SEC play.
Both teams have new head coaches at the helm heading into this season as well. Florida hired Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen to lead their team in 2018 while Tennessee hired Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt to lead the Vols. It will be the first time the two coaches face off as head coaches against each other.