An old SEC rivalry between the Tennessee Volunteers and Florida Gators kicks off on Saturday at The Swamp in Florida. Is this is a renewal for the Gators? They’ve started the year out 3-0, heading into SEC with a perfect record. Florida has yet to recreate the success they had when Tim Tebow was the leader of the Gators. Perhaps one of the greatest college football players of all time. A lot has happened since he left college football. He led the Broncos to an improbable run, got thrown out to the trash, bounced around with teams in the preseason, and now is a college football analyst on ESPN. Conversely, I can’t say much has changed for the Gators following his departure. Since then, the Gators have never been able to do much to strike fear into the SEC. They’ve had a couple of coaching changes since Urban Meyer stated he needed “a break” from football, only to turn up as the head coach at Ohio State soon after. Recruiting has a lot to do with college football and no coach has had the recruiting power of Urban Meyer in Florida since he left. I really thought Florida would have been able to attract a higher quality coach, but they haven’t had that there since Meyer.
The Gators fired Will Muschamp after a turbulent few years and hired Jim McElwain. No disrespect to McElwain, but I thought Florida would have been able to pull a bigger coach. He enjoyed some good times at Colorado State, but it is a huge jump up to the SEC from Colorado State. It remains to be seen if he was in fact the right higher, we’ll know that in two or three years. The Gators have a young team and are just looking for signs that the future is going to be bright. They have beaten New Mexico State, Eastern Carolina, and Kentucky on the road. The most impressive win being against Kentucky, but they are so fickle it’s always hard to get a feel of the Wildcats. A year will pass and I’ll still be confused if they’re good or not. Those three wins were nice confidence builders for this young Gator squad, but the competition is just about to start.
Tennessee is a good team. If it wasn’t for a play here or there, they would have beaten Oklahoma on the road and been 3-0. I feel like at this point, Oklahoma is a better team than Florida. They have an offense that can move the chains and Florida is going to have to slow down their offense to win this one. A 4-0 start would be huge for Florida. It would also signal, perhaps, a turning of the page on the past disappointing seasons in Florida football. UF isn’t going to jump into the SEC race or anything, but I think if they plenty of positive things, they might be in the mix in a year or two. It is a matchup of two unranked opponents in the SEC, but these are two teams on the upswing, a win is detrimental for their confidence moving deeper into the year. We provide our pick below.
Tennessee Volunteers vs. Florida Gators College Football Pick
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
Tennessee vs. Florida Pick:
I noted how Florida hasn’t had the same success since Tebow left, which is definitely true. But one side of the ball has still been excellent. The defense hasn’t fallen off and has still had a unit worthy of being in the SEC. The Florida offense has just been absolute garbage, though. Jeff Driskel was supposed to be the quarterback to bring the offense back, but in his time with Florida, they weren’t able to do so. Driskel transferred to La Tech following his career with the Gators. Florida leans on Will Grier in 2015, who has looked good against bad defenses, but in his first test against an SEC defense, he played like a freshman would. Grier passed for 125 yards with no touchdowns and an interception against Kentucky. The 14-9 win was won by the defense, not much else.
I believe that Tennessee is going to make Florida get their offense going. The Volunteers’ offense is quite good. They named the score against Bowling Green and against Western Carolina. Not the toughest competition, but they also scored 24 against the Sooners. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs is in his second year under center and has had himself a year thus far. He’s passed for 5 touchdowns with only 1 interception. Dobbs also has some legs, rushing for 107 yards and an additional 2 touchdowns. Unbelievably, Florida has won ten straight games over Tennessee. I see that changing today. The Volunteers have a sizable advantage at quarterback. The Florida offense isn’t going to be able to make the play they need in this game. Tennessee has to be motivated to end that ten game losing streak in Florida.
PICK: TENNESSEE -1 (-110)