It’s been a while since Florida came into a matchup with Tennessee as this big of an underdog.
In fact, ESPN says it’s the first time in 20 years that the Volunteers have entered the weekend as a five-point favorite or better. The good news is that Florida has a habit of defying the odds when it comes to facing Tennessee, but what exactly will it take for the Gators to pull off the upset?
The answer, according to ESPN, isn’t so simple. Florida’s strengths don’t match up well with Tennessee’s weaknesses. The Gators have excelled at running the ball, but the Vols are a top-10 team against the rush. That leaves things up to quarterback Anthony Richardson, who has struggled mightily over the last two weeks.
After going 17-for-24 for 186 yards against Utah, Richardson has gone 23-for-53 for 255 yards and four interceptions over the last two weeks. He’s also yet to throw a passing touchdown so far. Florida needs the Week 1 Anthony Richardson to show up on Saturday if its going to have any shot at winning.
“Teams have found some success throwing mostly short, quick passes on Tennessee — the Vols are 83rd in completion rate allowed and 51st in passing success rate allowed — and if Florida is going to score the 30-plus points it might take to win this game, Richardson must rediscover his rhythm. The Gators probably can’t do enough damage on the ground alone.”
The other key will be the defense slowing down Tennessee’s offense. The Gators aren’t great at forcing three-and-outs, and the Volunteers thrive after they get that first down. Getting Ventrell Miller back might help, but he’s listed as “questionable” and should be a game-time decision.
There are a lot of what-ifs going into this game for Florida, but that was made clear when the Gators struggled against USF last week. They’ll have to execute things to near perfection to pull this one off.
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