Florida wants its 10th straight win over Tennessee on Saturday. But when the Gators stream into Neyland Stadium shortly before the noon kickoff, they'll be walking into a hornets' nest — and facing a Tennessee team that is both motivated to snap their streak, and capable of doing so.
The Gators and Vols are both unranked prior to a meeting between the two teams for the first time since 1955, and because Florida's been ranked prior to every meeting with Tennessee since then, the same holds true for the Gators alone. Florida's won on its last three trips to Neyland Stadium, and memorably deflated the crowd on Rocky Top on a September night in 2012, when Trey Burton and Jeff Driskel keyed a rally from a halftime deficit that ushered orange-clad fans to the exits.
But that Florida team was on its way to the Sugar Bowl, and that Tennessee team would be Derek Dooley's last one. This Tennessee team has been revitalized by a youth movement under Butch Jones, while Florida has been just 6-9 since the beginning of 2013 — and a woeful 4-8 since their win over Tennessee in Gainesville last season.
In Florida's third SEC Network contest of the season — also available streaming online via the WatchESPN service — the Gators will be looking to quiet the chorus of voices calling for Driskel to be benched and Will Muschamp will be sacked. Tennessee will be looking to strike up its band.
And the winner will, improbably, have a fine shot at winning the SEC East.