Week 4 of college football action is nearly upon us and the Florida Gators are propping for their first road game of the season at Neyland Stadium against the Tennessee Volunteers. A historic SEC rivalry that has become an afterthought over the past couple of decades, this year’s matchup brings a bit of intrigue that has not been seen in a short while.
Both teams come into the game ranked in the top 25, though the Vols have looked much better than the Gators, both on paper with their 3-0 record (against UF’s 2-1) as well as the results on the field. The Orange and Blue have won 16 of the past 17 meetings between the two schools, but the winds seem to be changing directions in the second year of the Josh Heupel era.
CBS Sports’ Tom Fornelli gave his take on what he expects from the two SEC East rivals on Saturday and projects a 35-24 win for the home team. Take a look at his reasoning below.
Remember when Florida beat Utah at home to start the season and Anthony Richardson was suddenly a Heisman candidate? People were saying Richardson was a blend of Cam Newton and Vince Young, which would be an incredible combination — if true — but we haven’t heard many of those comparisons in the last two weeks. Let it be a lesson to all of us not to take anything we see in the first week of a new season too seriously. Strange stuff happens. Richardson is a talented player, but he’s young, inexperienced and has a lot of learning left to do.
As for this game, while Florida has been the dominant side in this rivalry for a while now (it’s won five straight and 25 of the 32 meetings going back to the dawn of the Steve Spurrier era in Gainesville), it won’t be Saturday. While I was hesitant to christen Tennessee the second-best team in the SEC East during the offseason due to its defense, it’s looked like the second-best team. While I’m not ready to say the team’s defensive issues are fixed, they’re certainly improved. With an offense this potent, that might be enough.
The Florida defense has been solid, however, and should slow the Vols down a bit — enough to help keep this one under the total, anyway.
All of Fornelli’s points are completely fair and his 11-point margin of victory is not too far off of the Gators Wire expert composite prediction, which predicts a 14-point loss this weekend. The Vols still have a ways to go in a division that includes the juggernaut Georgia Bulldogs as well as an upstart Kentucky Wildcats club that pose a threat to both schools, but a win would certainly give the boys on Rocky Top a boost.
The nation will find out how things unfurl starting at 3:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday in a game that will be broadcast on CBS Sports as well as the Gators Radio Network.
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