Uh oh, it’s that time of the year again: Florida week.
Despite much speculation concerning whether or not this game would, in fact, be played in Gainesville or moved to another site or day due to the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in the state of Florida this past weekend (our thoughts go out to all those affected), the official announcement was made on Tuesday that Vols-Gators would kick off at 3:30 p.m. from the Swamp as originally scheduled.
This will be the Gators’ home-opener and first game in two weeks due to the cancellation of their original week two game against Northern Colorado because of Irma. It’s hard to think of more intriguing circumstances to surround your first home game of the season: an attempt at revenge for Tennessee ending an 11-game losing streak, uncertainty at the quarterback spot, trying to fix your offense and oh yeah, your team still has about 50 players suspended.
Let’s get into the numbers that you need to know for another edition of this SEC East rivalry:
0 — The number of offensive touchdowns Florida has scored since 0:48 remaining in the third quarter of the Outback Bowl versus Iowa. The Gators have scored three touchdowns via pick-sixes since then, though, so they are finding the end zone some way, at least. Two of these pick-sixes occurred against Michigan in week one, making Florida’s 33-17 loss look closer than it really was due to their inefficiency on offense. UF’s offensive woes have been well-chronicled and it’s something that they have a chance to fix when they face a very questionable Tennessee defense.
1 — The current number of the win streak that Tennessee has over Florida. “11 in a row! 11 in a row!” no longer applies here and it is so odd to approach Florida week without an impending sense of some mystical curse still hanging over UT’s head for the first time in my adult life. The Vols had a second half for the ages in 2016, overcoming a 21-3 halftime deficit en route to defeating the Gators and the Vols’ mental demons 38-28 in Knoxville. There have been no Florida players guaranteeing a victory to the media this week and Tennessee players are appearing more confident this time around compared to years past. The monkey is off your back, Vols. Let’s see if they can show it on the field.
5 — The number of times that Tennessee has ever won a game in 18 visits to Gainesville. The Swamp is, historically, a tough place to play and that rings very true for the Vols, who have not won there since 2003. That game was the second visit in-a-row that the Vols won (34-32 in 2001). The last win before that one was in 1971. Tennessee came oh so close to leaving with a win in 2015, but we won’t get into that.
9 — The number of Florida players that are still suspended from the team due to a credit card fraud investigation. Players get suspended for games all the time in college football, but when NINE players are suspended, it is sure to raise some eyebrows. Critical players that are suspended include No. 1 receiver Antonio Callaway and top running back Jordan Scarlett among others. During his Wednesday press conference, Florida HC Jim McElwain offered no update on the suspensions. So, it’s looking like key players will still be out for the Gators on Saturday, but if they were suddenly eligible to return on the morning of the game, would anyone really be surprised?
14 — The number of combined tackles that Tennessee linebackers Colton Jumper (8) and Cortez McDowell (6) had against Florida last year. Without Darrin Kirkland Jr. and Jalen Reeves-Maybin, the Vols needed these two to step up in a big way against the Gators. They did just that, making crucial plays when needed and putting on what was arguably the best performances of their college careers. Both are currently in the top-four of the SEC in the tackling department and will need to have a 2016-esqe game in order to help a suspect Vols defense.
46 — The number of total meetings between these two programs since their first game in 1916. Tennessee won its first 10 match-ups with Florida from 1916-53, but Florida is 26-10 in the series since then, including winning 20 out of the last 27 meetings since Steve Spurrier’s first season at UF in 1990. Florida has clearly had the upper hand in this rivalry over the last quarter-century, holding winning streaks of 11 (2005-15) and five (93-97) over the Vols in that time span.
90 — As of late Wednesday, this is the percentage chance for thunderstorms in Gainesville on Saturday. Storms during the game could make this edition of Tennessee-Florida an absolute mess on the field and affect team strategy as Mother Nature does during outdoor sporting events. We would most likely see an increased reliance on the ground game for both teams. Who would this benefit more? If there is a lightning delay, would we see a huge shift in momentum between the teams? How late could the game finish if the storms are very severe and persistent? Will actual alligators wonder onto Steve Spurrier Field? Tune into CBS on Saturday to find out!
152 — The number of receiving yards that Tennessee receiver Marquez Callaway has through the first two games of the season. Callaway was one of the Vols’ saviors in their Labor Day win over Georgia Tech, hauling in four grabs for 115 yards and two touchdowns all in the second half. He was only targeted once against Indiana State, but took his lone reception 37 yards to the house. Three touchdowns on five receptions is incredibly efficient and that’s exactly what Tennessee will need Callaway to be in the Swamp if they hope to bring any kind of passing attack against a very tough Gators secondary.
192 — The total number of offensive yards that Florida produced against Michigan. I mentioned the Gators’ offensive struggles at the beginning of this list and I will again here. Florida had a bad time on offense and it showed. After quarterback Feleipe Franks dropped a 34-yard bomb to Josh Hammond on the second play of the game, it all went south from there. Franks only completed five passes for 75 yards and Malik Zaire only added 106 yards in relief of Franks which adds up for 181 of Florida’s 192 yards. Yes, this means they only rushed for a measly 11 yards against Don Brown’s Wolverine defense. Yes, Michigan’s six sacks did some damage, but Florida found no help from their running backs in the absence of Scarlett. While Tennessee’s defense is certainly not Michigan’s, Florida has numerous offensive issues they need to fix in a hurry by Saturday.
528.5 — The number of average total yards of offense per game that Tennessee has allowed in its last six games dating back to 2016. This includes such proud performances such as giving up 740 yards to a 4-8 Missouri team at home, 443 rushing yards against Kentucky, allowing Vandy’s Kyle Shurmur to throw for 416 yards and most recently, allowing Georgia Tech to rush for 535 yards, a school record. It’s appropriate that this number comes after showing how bad Florida’s offense is because it brings us to a nice juxtaposition with Tennessee’s defense. Something has to give on Saturday with these two units. If the Vols continue this trend of allowing opposing offense to put up miles of yards on you, especially against a Florida team that could be missing their top two offensive weapons in Callaway and Scarlett, it may be the beginning of the end for defensive coordinator Bob Shoop. However, if you are Florida offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, your offense may be in dire straits if you have the same type of output you had against Michigan when you face this Tennessee defense. Let the battle of which unit is more trash commence!