A stark naked Will Ferrell ran through the faux college streets in the cult classic Old School shouting, “We’re going streaking, through the quad and into the gymnasium.”
Ferrell, unknowingly, was by himself in the scene, but the Florida Gators hope to continue a little streaking of their own on Saturday.
Last week saw Florida extend the nation’s longest active winning streak over an opponent, extending their winning streak over the Kentucky Wildcats to 29 games with a 14-9 victory. Florida will again try to re-write the history books this week with what would be their 11th consecutive victory of the Tennessee Volunteers.
Tennessee won the first 10 matchups between the two teams and Florida’s current 10-game streak equals the longest winning streak by either team in the series, a win on Saturday would change that.
“I mean, they haven’t beaten us in 10 years and we’re looking forward to keeping that going,” 19-year old sophomore cornerback Quincy Wilson said. “We’re ready to prepare this week for them and get ready to do what it takes to win.”
Wilson was just nine years old the last time that the Florida Gators lost to Tennessee in football. As was the case last week, most players on both rosters probably don’t have a very clear memory of what the Florida-Tennessee rivalry truly is. The rivalry is not lost on Jim McElwain but he doesn’t want to put more pressure on his football team than he needs to.
“You put yourself in position by winning ballgames to play in bigger ballgames,” said Jim McElwain. “And yet, this is the biggest game of the season because it’s the next game.”
This isn’t just another ball game though.
Florida-Tennessee is a storied rivalry with no love lost between neither the two programs nor their fans. Tennessee felt like they were ready to end the streak last year. The fans coordinated their clothes and “Checker boarded Neyland,” the belief that the talent gap between the two had shrunk had Volunteer fans ready for a win. For most of the game it appeared that the Tennessee defense was set to deliver just that.
Then, freshman quarterback Treon Harris led two fourth quarter scoring drives after taking over for Jeff Driskel in the fourth quarter and Florida put the “Ten” in Tennessee with a 10-9 win.
This season, Vols fans are hedging their bets on quarterback Josh Dobbs, a bevy of tall, physical receivers and a two-headed rushing attack in Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara. Oh, yeah, the Tennessee defense, even without All-SEC defensive lineman Kurt Maggitt, has been stout this season too and will give a struggling Florida offensive line all they can handle and more on Saturday.
“Defensively, you can tell they’ve recruited to the SEC level. Very athletic. They’re young up front, but they’re playing a lot of guys and those guys are making plays,” McElwain said. “I attribute that to Steve Strickland, their D-line coach, who I was with at Louisville and Michigan State. One of the best in the business, and you can tell how disciplined they play up front and how hard they play up front.”
On Monday Florida announced a stadium gimmick of their own, urging fans to wear all blue to the game on Saturday for a “blue out.” The last time the Florida Gators had a “blue out” South Carolina and Marcus Lattimore left the Gators black and blue in a 36-14 victory that sent the Gamecocks to the SEC Championship game.
The Gators hope to not create a blue out losing streak, while still extending their winning streak to a new rivalry record against Tennessee.