For the first time this season, Tennessee will be an underdog prior to kick-off of a football game. And they’re pretty sizable underdogs for their next game at that.
The Vols (1-2) have opened up as nearly two touchdown underdogs to No. 9 Florida (3-0) ahead of Saturday’s match-up in Gainesville. The Gators have opened up as 12.5-point favorites over Tennessee according to Vegas Insider, marking the first time all season Tennessee has started out as an underdog for a game.
Though Tennessee has been favorites in their first three games of the season, they’ve only managed to win one of those contests. The Vols picked up their first win of the 2019 season on Saturday, defeating FCS opponent UT-Chattanooga by a score of 45-0. Tennessee lost 38-30 to Georgia State and 29-26 in double overtime to BYU to start the season.
Florida enters Saturday’s match-up with a perfect 3-0 record, though they’ve looked far from unbeatable to start the year. The Gators escaped Week 1 with a 24-20 victory over Miami thanks to 10 sacks by their defense against the Hurricanes, and Florida had to rally from an 11-point deficit to defeat Kentucky in Lexington on Saturday, beating the Wildcats 29-21. During their win over Kentucky, Florida lost their starting quarterback, Feleipe Franks, for the rest of the season after he dislocated his right ankle. Florida’s other win came over FCS opponent UT-Martin, a 45-0 shutout victory.
Last year, Florida came into Knoxville as favorites and trounced the Vols. Tennessee gave the ball away six times, and the Gators took advantage of the Vols’ sloppy play, grabbing an early lead and never looking back. At one point in the third quarter, Florida led 33-3. They wound up beating the Vols by a score of 47-21.
Since defeating Florida in 2016 and ending an 11-game losing streak to the Gators, the Vols haven’t been able to beat their SEC East rival since. Florida avenged that loss on a Hail Mary touchdown as time expired in 2017, winning 26-20. Then there was last year’s dominating victory for the Gators as well.
All in all, Florida has won 13 of the last 14 games against Tennessee, and the Vols haven’t won in The Swamp since 2003.
Saturday’s contest will be Tennessee’s first SEC game of the year, and it will be their first road trip of the season. The game will mark the second conference match-up of the 2019 season for the Gators. The Vols enter their match-up against Florida with a losing record for the first time since the SEC split into divisions in 1992. The last time Tennessee had a losing record before facing the Gators was back in 1977. The Vols were 2-4 before taking on Florida that season, and the No. 19 Gators prevailed 27-17 in Gainesville.
The Vols and Gators will kick-off at noon Eastern on Saturday, September 21st. The game will be televised on ESPN.