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Florida vs. Tennessee, Game Thread: Gators seek the East up north

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Florida is one game from returning to Atlanta.

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Florida Gainesville Sun-USA TODAY NETWORK

The thing about these games in the backstretch of the 2020 regular season for the Florida Gators — other than them all being tenuously and tentatively scheduled, what with a still-raging pandemic once more clocking more than 10,000 new cases in Florida per day — is that not one of them has been all that compelling on the field.

Arkansas brought Feleipe Franks back to Gainesville, but also a defense that Kyle Trask shredded. Vanderbilt and Kentucky were thought to be overmatched — and were, to the extent that three-touchdown wins were underwhelming to an extent. Now the Gators get 2-5 Tennessee a week before meeting probable 3-5 LSU, and while the prize on the line — the SEC East title — is significant, the game shapes up as another snoozer.

Maybe that’s a reflection of how good the Gators have become on offense with Trask at the helm of Dan Mullen’s ship. Florida has rattled off 34 or more points in every game this season and 10 straight in total, and Trask is the Heisman front-runner as a result. His arsenal returned to its fullest potency a week ago, with Kyle Pitts returning from injury to once again look like college football’s only true mismatch and catch three touchdowns, and there’s little to suggest Tennessee will be slowing these Gators down through the air.

Or maybe that’s a reflection of just how far removed from the average SEC team the Gators have been this year. Even with a defense that has bordered on the depressing routinely leaking oil and points, only Texas A&M has stayed within two touchdowns of Florida — and even then, the Aggies needed a fortuitous fumble to top their visiting foes.

Before and since then, Florida’s played the same game about seven times — the defense looks sketchy, but the offense paints a near-masterpiece. Even Georgia didn’t prove to be a good enough challenge for Florida to switch up the script, with its defense torched and its offense turned into a trebuchet that fired and missed over and over.

It’s all been ... a bit same-y? Don’t get me wrong, the meals have been savory enough — and I’m not saying that I want Tennessee to rediscover competence and put Florida to the test for four quarters, of course.

But with Florida on track to meet a juggernaut Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, like it did in 2015 and 2016, I’d love to think that there’s enough to these Gators for that familiar matchup to produce a surprising result.

This team breaking from its mold would be a nice indication of that potential.