Tennessee takes on No. 9 Florida on Saturday for their annual SEC divisional rivalry game. And for the first time since 2014, the game will kick-off at noon Eastern.
The Vols (1-2) are looking for their first SEC win of the season, while the Gators (3-0, 1-0 SEC) are looking to improve to 2-0 in conference play after coming back and beating Kentucky last weekend.
Florida will be turning to their backup quarterback in Saturday’s contest. Starting QB Feleipe Franks suffered a season-ending injury in the Gators’ contest against the Wildcats, and backup Kyle Trask helped lead Florida to victory. Trask will be making his first career start on Saturday when the Gators host the Vols, but redshirt freshman Emory Jones is expected to play in the game as well.
Tennessee starting quarterback Jarrett Guarantano will be making his first start in The Swamp on Saturday. The last time the Vols traveled down to Gainesville in 2017, Quinten Dormady was the starting quarterback. The Vols lost that game 26-20.
Here’s a “by the numbers” look at the Vols’ match-up with No. 9 Florida this Saturday.
Tennessee has had a rough time in Gainesville, especially since Florida became an annual rival back in 1992.
All-time, the Vols are just 5-14 against Florida in Gainesville, and that includes an abysmal 2-11 mark in The Swamp since the SEC split into divisions in 1992 and the two teams have played each other on an annual basis. Tennessee’s lone wins in Gainesville since 1992 came in 2001 and 2003. It’s been 16 years since the Vols last beat Florida on the Gators’ home turf.
Florida, meanwhile, is 12-13 all-time in Knoxville, including a 10-4 record since 1992.
Since 1992, Tennessee’s average margin of defeat in their 11 losses in The Swamp has been 10.5 points. The Vols have suffered massive beatdowns in Gainesville, losing by 25 (62-37) in 1995 and by 39 (59-20) in 2007. Four of UT’s other 11 losses in The Swamp have come by 10 or more points, meaning over half of Tennessee’s road losses to Florida have come by double digits. The Vols’ last two trips to Gainesville have resulted in close, heart-breaking losses, however. Tennessee lost 28-27 in 2015 and 26-20 in 2017.
Tennessee has won just one of the last 14 games they’ve played against Florida. The Vols’ 2016 victory in Neyland Stadium is their only win against the Gators in their last 14 contests in the annual series. That 2016 game marked the end of an 11-game losing streak to Florida, but the Gators have since started a new winning streak, beating the Vols two years in a row now.
Tennessee has been downright pathetic against top 10 teams over the last decade-plus.
The Vols haven’t beaten a team ranked inside the top 10 of the AP Poll since a 51-33 victory over No. 10 Georgia in Athens back in 2006. Since that game, Tennessee has gone an incredible 0-29 against AP top 10 teams. UT has gotten close to ending that streak with wins over No. 11 South Carolina in 2013 and No. 12 Kentucky in 2018, but Tennessee has yet to beat a team in the top 10 in well over a decade.
As a head coach and a defensive coordinator, Jeremy Pruitt has coached against Florida five times prior to this weekend’s game, and he’s helped beat the Gators twice. In 2016, he was the defensive coordinator for Alabama when the Tide destroyed Florida 54-16 in the SEC Championship Game. Pruitt lost both match-ups with Florida as the defensive coordinator of Georgia in 2014 and 2015, but he helped Florida State beat the Gators 37-7 in 2013. Pruitt, of course, was the head coach last season when Tennessee fell 47-21 to Florida in Knoxville.
Dan Mullen, meanwhile, has a sterling record against the Vols as a head coach. He helped Mississippi State beat Tennessee 41-31 as their head coach in 2012, and he was the head coach for Florida last season during the Gators’ blowout victory. Mullen also went 4-0 against the Vols as Florida’s offensive coordinator from 2005-08.
Over the last three years, Tennessee has won just two road SEC contests. The Vols got an upset victory over No. 21 Auburn on the road last year, defeating the Tigers 30-24 on October 13th. The only other road game Tennessee has won against a conference foe over the last three seasons came against Georgia in 2016. That was the Vols’ famous Hail Mary victory over the No. 25 Bulldogs on October 1st. Otherwise, UT has lost their other 10 road games against SEC teams since 2016.
Since Dan Mullen took over as Florida’s head coach prior to the 2018 season, the Gators have won six games when trailing at some point in the second half. Florida won four games last season on comeback efforts in the second half, and two of their three wins to start the 2019 season have come when trailing in the fourth quarter.
Dating back to 2000, the team that’s run for more yards in the Tennessee-Florida rivalry has won the game 15 of the last 19 times. The only times the team with more rushing yards hasn’t won came in 2000, 2002, 2015, and 2017. All of those times, the Vols out-rushed the Gators but still came up short in the final score.