The countdown to kickoff is a mere few days away, and this year the hype surrounding the Florida-Tennessee game has been reminding a lot of fans of when this game pitted two members of college football royalty.
For the first time in a long time, both teams are coming into the matchup ranked in the Top-25, and the college football universe has taken notice.
In fact, for the second straight week, ESPN’s College Game Day will be in attendance as the Gators hope to knock off the Vols for the eighth consecutive time.
You read that correctly: Eighth consecutive time.
Just say it out loud; feel how nicely, how delightfully and lovingly it just rolls right off the tongue.
Feel the sophistication in the phrase, especially compared to the Gators’ teeth-free rivals to the north.
Of course, the game will not be easy. Senior, star running back Mike Gillislee has been nursing a minor groin injury all week and most likely will not be running at 100-percent come Saturday night.
Starting weakside linebacker Jelani Jenkins it out with a broken thumb, and starting cornerback Cody Riggs has also been sidelined with a broken foot.
Tennessee’s wide receiving corps, even after losing Da’rick Rodgers, who transferred to Tennessee Tech after leading the SEC last season with 67 receptions for 1,040 yards, is still one of the most formidable in the nation’s toughest conference. Justin Hunter tore his ACL against the Gators in 2011, and now that he has racked up 17 receptions for 219 yards in just the team’s first two games, he is like a caged bird, ready to fly free against the Gators this Saturday.
Quarterback Jeff Driskel will be making only his second career start, and a few freshmen defensmen, namely linebacker Antonio Morrison, will be asked to step up and take on an expanded role. In front of over 100,000 ravenous, orange-and-white clad, mullet-rocking Volunteers fans, the Gators aren’t exactly taking a walk in the park.
All that being said, the Vols are still the Vols, and like the legend Steve Spurrier used to say, “You can’t spell Citrus without U-T.”