Tennessee opens up SEC play Saturday night when they travel to Gainesville to face Florida.
Each week, the RTI team will provide game predictions for Tennessee’s weekly opponent.
We move on to Florida.
Ric Butler: The first thing I think about when I think about this matchup is Florida’s war with Alabama in week three. In reality, Florida was just two made extra points away from sending that game in potentially a different direction. Florida’s rushing attack looks great. Not just led by their running backs, but both Emory Jones and Anothony Richardson, UF’s QBs, have been a major factor in the Gators’ No. 2 ranked rushing attack. Tennessee will have to figure out some way to slow down the run, or else Florida could wind up chewing out most of the clock. I am interested to see Byron Young for a second straight week and see if he potentially moves into a starting/first quarter role after making his debut for Tennessee last weekend. But for Tennessee to stay competitive, they have to score some points. I think Tennessee will have to take advantage of momentum-changing plays, much like the deep passers they haven’t been often connecting in the first week weeks. I think by the end of this game, Tennessee will have given a worthy fight, but I just don’t know if they have the same horses to match Florida in that environment. However, I do think Tennessee has an opportunity to cover the spread, here.
Prediction: Florida 41, Tennessee 24
Ryan Schumpert: Josh Heupel and the Vols head to Gainesville for the first road game of the season Saturday night. The Vols are big underdogs as they look for their first win over Florida since 2016 and their first win in Gainesville since 2003. After two weeks, it looked like Florida may be in for a drop-off season after losing Kyle Trask and Kyle Pitts to the NFL. However, the Gators impressed last week against Alabama, losing 31-29 after falling behind 17-3 in the first quarter. Florida has retooled its offense, going from one of the nation’s best passing attacks to one of the best rushing attacks. The Vols’ run defense has been stout through three weeks and if Tennessee wants to pull the upset, they’re going to have to force Florida into passing downs. Tennessee’s offense will get a boost with a few players returning from injury but I have a hard time seeing the Vols’ offense run with much success against a Florida front seven that held Alabama to less than 100 rushing yards last week. Tennessee needs to create chunk plays in the passing game Saturday night, the type of plays they’ve failed to connect on the first three weeks. I’d be floored if the Vols pull the upset, but let’s see if Josh Heupel can be more competitive against Tennessee’s biggest rivals than his predecessor was.
Prediction: Florida 42, Tennessee 21