Another college football Saturday has arrived, and a classic rivalry along with it. In arguably the biggest game of the day, No. 11 Tennessee football plays host to No. 20 Florida in the latest edition of the bitter feud. With the Volunteers boasting their best team in years, this rivalry is back to being must-watch TV.
The Gators have dominated this matchup recently, winning 16 of the last 17 contests. Despite that, the Volunteers enter this game as heavy favorites, with the line passing double digits. Both teams have a lot to prove, and this could be the game of the week.
After an overtime win over Pittsburgh, Tennessee destroyed Akron 63-6 on home turf last week. Meanwhile, Florida had a lot more trouble, barely scraping by South Florida 31-28, one week after falling to Kentucky. Since their upset win over Utah in week 1, the Gators have looked very flat.
Tennessee football is hoping to build on its momentum, while Florida is hoping to get back on track. With all that in mind, let’s make some bold predictions for the Volunteers in this showdown.
3. Tennessee runs for three touchdowns
So far this season, Tennessee has one of the best offenses in the nation. The Volunteers are third in the country in total offense, averaging 553.7 yards per game. Much of the attention goes to Hendon Hooker and the passing game, but the run game is great in its own right.
In fact, Tennessee has 12 rushing touchdowns on the season to nine passing. Three different running backs, Jaylen Wright, Jabari Small, and Dylan Sampson, each have three rushing TDs on the season. The rushing offense does more than just score, as the Volunteers average 182.3 rushing yards per game.
On the other side of the ball, Florida’s defense has struggled to contain the run this season. The Gators are allowing an average of 185.3 rushing yards per game, second-worst in the SEC. They allowed 286 yards and two touchdowns against South Florida, a team that has one FBS win since the start of the 2020 season.
Josh Heupel and Tennessee football should attack that weakness with everything they have. The Volunteers should be in for a big day on the ground, and should score at least three rushing scores on Saturday afternoon.
2. Tennessee keeps Anthony Richardson out of the end zone
Given Richardson’s recent performances, this may not be the boldest prediction on this list. After running for three scores in the opener, Florida’s QB has not rushed for another touchdown in the two games since. That’s not even counting his throwing stats, where he has no touchdowns and four interceptions this season.
Even with his struggles, Richardson is too talented to not score a single touchdown in three straight games. However, that’s exactly what will happen after Saturday’s game against Tennessee.
The Volunteers defense, which allows 344.7 yards and 14.3 points per game, may not be among the best in the nation statistically. However, they’ve more than held their own, and that may be all they need with how much Florida has struggled on offense. Don’t expect Richardson’s touchdown-less streak to come to an end on Saturday.
1. Tennessee wins by at least 20
All the statistics point towards Tennessee winning big in this game. The betting line is huge, and ESPN’s Football Power Index gives the Volunteers an 87.5% chance of winning. The odds can certainly be deceiving at times, but this is not one of those times.
The history in this matchup may point to the Gators, but it may also work against them. The Volunteers definitely have a chip on their shoulder heading into this game, and they will be eager to prove that this year’s team is different. A blowout win over a hated rival will be a huge boost for Tennessee football, and send a message to the rest of the conference too.