This Week, 12th Time is the Charm
It’s called having someone’s number or in the case of the Tennessee Volunteers and the Florida Gators, it’s having a team’s number. These two undefeated SEC foes meet again in September on Saturday afternoon in Knoxville and the homestanding Volunteers need desperately to end The Streak. And, trust me, it’s not a good one.
The Vols haven’t beaten the Gators since 2004. I don’t think Marc Zuckerberg had created The Facebook by that point. The Vols have opportunities to end the streak over the past 11 meetings, including the last two years that ended in one point losses, but haven’t been able to finish the deal.
Last year’s loss, though, was the one that stung the most. Tennessee dominated much of the day in The Swamp and had a 13 point lead in the fourth quarter. The Gators converted a number of fourth down opportunities, including an Antonio Callaway touchdown with just under a minute to play, that left Tennessee fans in disbelief. There were so many Tennessee errors that led to that Florida win that Vols fans had to think a win over Florida might never happen again.
Hope springs eternal, though and 2016 is a new year. Tennessee came into the season with more returning talent than any team in the SEC East. The game will be in Knoxville. The Vols have a three year starting quarterback under center. They have a dynamic and explosive backfield. They have NFL talent on the defensive side of the ball. This one is a slam dunk, right? The Vols can’t lose this one.
They will be without a few key defensive players, including star defensive back Cam Sutton, who is out indefinitely. Linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr, a star sophomore for this Volunteer defense, will miss this one too. On the flip side, Florida will be without its starting quarterback Luke Del Rio, but his backup Austin Appleby started games at Purdue before transferring to Florida.
I’ve seen this rivalry up close and personal a few times, back when both teams were top seven teams in the nation. Florida won each of those games and the last eleven in a row. Can Tennessee finally get over the hump, win this matchup and take over the lead in the SEC East?
As they say, the 12th time is a charm.