The SEC is loaded with great match-ups for week 6 of the 2014 season, and the under-the-radar game with the most intrigue features the Florida Gators (2-1) traveling to Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, TN to take on the host Tennessee Volunteers (2-2) on Saturday afternoon (12:00pm ET). Florida had a bye last week, but lost at Alabama 42-21 the previous week. Their wins have come at home over Kentucky (36-30) in their SEC opener in week 3, and over a woeful Eastern Michigan team in week 2 (65-0). Tennessee comes into this game having dropped their last 2 games at then-13th ranked Georgia (35-32) last week and at Oklahoma (34-10) the previous week. They opened the season with home wins over Utah St. (38-7) and Arkansas St. (34-19).
The Gators rank 23rd among FBS teams in scoring offense with 40.7 points per game and 41st in total offense with 462.3 yards per game. Quarterback Jeff Driskel has thrown for 636 yards with 5 TDs and 3 INTs this season. The Gators rank 58th nationally in scoring defense with 24 points per game allowed and 83rd in total defense with 415.7 YPG allowed. The Gators secondary has struggled this season, ranking a dreadful 110th nationally with 287.7 YPG allowed through the air.
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Tennessee ranks 74th among FBS teams in scoring offense with 28.5 PPG and 89th in total offense with 378 YPG. Quarterback Justin Worley has assumed control of the Vols spread offense, and has thrown for 985 yards with 9 TDs and 3 INTs this season. The Volunteers rank 57th nationally in scoring defense with 23.8 PPG allowed and 49th in total defense with 366.3 YPG allowed. Their pass defense has been particularly strong given the competition they have faced in the early going, ranking 28th nationally with 197.3 YPG allowed.
Florida vs. Tennessee Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Florida Gators +2.5
@Tennessee Volunteers -2.5
Over 53.5 (-110)
Under 53.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from BetOnline.ag
Florida vs. Tennessee Pick:
Florida has dominated this series, winning 9 in a row against the Volunteers including a 31-17 win last season in a game that Driskel was knocked out for the season with a broken leg.
Florida and Tennessee are both looking to establish an identity in a rugged SEC, and both need a win badly in an evenly matched game. The Gators gave up 645 yards against Alabama, the worst in the history of the program. That came against a quarterback in Blake Sims who had been struggling, it is important to note that defense has been the strength of most of head coach Will Muschamp’s teams with the Gators. Driskel had a rough day as well, with 2 INTs and completing only 9 of 28 attempts.
In contrast, Worley looked good against a strong Georgia team last week with 264 yards passing and 3 TDs. The young Volunteers appear to be becoming more comfortable with coach Butch Jones’ fast –paced offense that leads the SEC in plays per game. He will be aided by a Florida secondary that has struggled against the pas this season despite not facing the toughest of quarterbacks thus far. Worley and the Vols skill and tempo should spell trouble for the Gators defense, and combined with Florida’s struggles on offense that should be enough to break the Volunteers run of futility in this series. Take Tennessee and give the points here.