Tennessee and Florida haven’t kicked off a game later than 3:30 PM Eastern since the 2012 season. But that will change this year.
It was officially announced today that the Vols-Gators match-up on September 22nd of this season will begin at either 7 or 7:30 Eastern. The final determination on the kick-off time will be decided after Saturday’s slate of games. The location of the game on television will also be decided after Saturday’s games. The game will either be televised on ESPN, ESPN2, or the SEC Network.
The Vols and Gators have been the 3:30 SEC Game of the Week on CBS Sports for the large majority of the last decade-plus. The only times in recent history where the two teams haven’t played at that time were in 2012 when the game kicked off at 6 PM Eastern and in 2014 when the two teams kicked off at noon Eastern. Both those games were in Neyland Stadium as well.
The last time Florida traveled to Neyland Stadium was in 2016, and Tennessee handed the Gators a 38-28 defeat, their first victory over Florida since 2004. Last season, the Gators used a last-second touchdown to win 26-20.
Tennessee will face UTEP at home this weekend, and that game is a noon kickoff. The Gators are hosting Colorado State for a 4:00 Eastern kick-off. Both schools are currently 1-1 on the season. Tennessee lost to West Virginia 40-14 to start the year then defeated ETSU 59-3 last weekend. Florida beat Charleston Southern 53-6 to open this season then lost 27-16 to Kentucky last weekend. Their loss to the Wildcats was their first time losing to Kentucky in 31 years.
This year’s match-up will mark the first time Florida coach Dan Mullen and UT coach Jeremy Pruitt face each other as head coach. Pruitt has faced Mullen as an assistant coach/defensive coordinator for Alabama while Mullen was head coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs, though. Pruitt was a perfect 6-0 against Mullen during that time.