With Florida and Tennessee currently in a haze of medocirty, Saturday’s contest is essentially about either team making a bowl in 2018. Volunteers coach Jeremy Pruitt and Gators coach Dan Mullen are both in need of a win to ease the uncertainty that surrounds both programs. However, fans of both teams can be assured that the Florida-Tennessee game, more often than not, provides great theater.
While the UT-Florida game has only occurred 47 times, the rivalry has determined Southeastern Conference and national titles while providing one incredible moment after another. With Florida winning 11 straight until Tennessee’s 38-28 win in 2016, the Gators gained the upper hand and now lead the series 27-20.
Florida’s 48 unanswered points against Peyton Manning and the Vols in 1995 remains a triumphant moment in the series for the Gators, while Vol running back Travis Stephens carrying the Vols to their first win at The Swamp in 30 years with 226 rushing yards in 2001 is etched in the minds of Tennessee fans. Both programs have good and bad memories throughout the series’ history, especially since the teams began playing every year in 1992.
A Steve Spurrier joke that went “You can’t spell Citrus with UT” — referring to the Vols’ back-to-back appearances in Citrus Bowl game after the 1995 and ‘96 seasons while Florida played in consecutive national title contests — fueled the animosity that exists to this day between Florida-UT.
The winner of Saturday’s contest in Knoxville will have the inside track to a bowl bid while the loser will suffer another setback in its quest to return to previous heights. H&A
Cover photo courtesy University of Florida Athletics