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Game Preview: No. 11 Tennessee vs. Florida

The Vols will look for their first win in Gainesville since 2003 when Tennessee visits Florida on Saturday.
Credit: AP
Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel watches play during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Austin Peay (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — No. 11 Tennessee football will look to snap a streak of struggles in "The Swamp" on Saturday when the Vols take on the Florida Gators at Benn Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. to open SEC play.

Tennessee defeated Florida in Knoxville in a top-25 matchup a season ago for its first win against the Gators since 2016, but UF has controlled the series for two decades with wins in 16 of the last 18 meetings.

UT comes into this game 2-0 with victories over Virginia and AustinA-Peay. Florida is 1-1 with a loss to No. 12 Utah and a win over McNeese State.


The Vols will be looking for their first victory in Gainesville in 20 years when the teams kick off on Saturday. Tennessee last defeated Florida in its home stadium in 2003, when Tennessee won 24-10.

Tennessee has lost the last nine contests played in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, with six of those nine losses coming by double-digit margins, including the 38-14 loss in 2021.


Through two games this season, the Vols owe much of their 2-0 start to the season to their defense, which leads the nation in tackles per loss per game (12.5) and sacks per game (5.5). The team has only allowed one touchdown in each of its first two contests.

Senior linebacker Aaron Beasley has picked up where he left off from last season's Orange Bowl performance and leads the nation with six tackles for loss for a total loss of 25 yards. Senior defensive lineman Tyler Baron and sophomore defensive lineman James Pearce Jr. are tied for second in the nation with three sacks each at this point in the season.


Tennessee's offensive performance in its week two win against Austin Peay left a lot to be desired, and it took the Vols until late in the first half to score a touchdown despite entering the game favored by over 48 points. The Vols' passing attack only found the endzone twice against the Governors in a lackluster 30-13 win.

The Tennessee offense currently ranks 26th in total offense with 477.5 yards per game, but Florida's offense ranks 40th with 453 yards per game.


While the passing attack still hasn't clicked, the rushing game has emerged as an early standout. Tennessee is currently leading the SEC and fourth in FBS with 515 total rushing yards through two games for an average of 257.5 rushing yards per game.

Tennessee junior running back Jaylen Wright is third in the nation and leading the SEC with 9.32 yards per carry. He has rushed the ball 25 times and has picked up a total of 233 rushing yards in two games.


Florida's top offensive weapon heading into week three is wide receiver Ricky Pearsall, who has amassed 215 yards and one touchdown through two games to start the season. wide receiver. The senior wideout is fifth in the SEC in receiving yards and is also top-20 in FBS.

The Gators' defense is currently second in the FBS and first in the SEC in total defense and has only allowed its opponents to gain an average of 191 yards per game, but the UF scoring defense has allowed 15.5 points per game, which is tied for 37th in the FBS.


Tennessee will take on Florida at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla, on Saturday, Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.

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