A Florida Gators team fresh off a narrow 20-17 victory over SEC newcomer Texas A&M will travel to Knoxville to take on the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday night.
This marquee SEC tilt between two ranked teams provides plenty of high stakes this early on in the college football season. Here is everything you need to know about the game, and how it's bound to play out.
When: Saturday, September 15 at 6 p.m.
Where: Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tenn.
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Betting Line: Tennessee (-3), according to Bovada
These two teams are evenly matched, with Florida ranked at No. 18 in the latest AP poll, and Tennessee ranked 23rd. A three-point cushion for the home team in these scenarios is standard.
The Vols' home stadium is always a hostile environment, even though the program has struggled in recent years. Florida is in a bit of a transition period as well, but its program is also on the uptick.
Choosing Tennessee to cover is where the smart money goes here.
This seems about right, because the winner should score somewhere in the mid-to-high 20s. Vols QB Tyler Bray is having a magnificent season thus far, and he's showing why he may be given consideration as a first-round NFL draft prospect.
These are the toughest defenses either squad will have faced to date, though, so lighting up the scoreboard against a conference foe won't be as feasible.
If stud receiver Justin Hunter weren't still showing signs of rust for Tennessee, it might be a different story. He may bring it in this game, though, as the Florida game last year was the site of his season-ending ACL injury.
Injury Report (via USA TODAY)
DB Cody Riggs, Undisclosed, Out indefinitely
TE Brendan Downs, Knee, Questionable
LB Christian Harris, Knee, Questionable
This is a huge opportunity for both SEC teams to establish themselves as possible BCS bowl contenders. If Tennessee takes care of business at home and wins rather easily, it will likely vault their ranking several places, setting themselves up well for the first release of the BCS standings.
For Gator Nation, a victory over the rival Vols would be the program's second straight signature road triumph during Will Muschamp's short tenure.
Keys to Florida Win
Senior running back Mike Gillislee has scored two touchdowns in each of his first two starts in 2012, and he will need a similar performance on Saturday night to keep this game close.
With the high-powered Vols aerial attack that has an even more experienced quarterback than a year ago, Gators QB Jeff Driskel must continue operating at a very efficient level. He will have to be more aggressive, though, because he took eight sacks last week against A&M and can't be as hesitant in the pocket if he wants to stay on the field.
Keys to Tennessee Win
All eyes will be on Bray to pull it out against an athletic Florida defense, and he definitely has an explosive target in Cordarrelle Patterson to help the cause.
The 6'6", 215-pound quarterback has a cannon for an arm, and looks to have improved his accuracy this season. What's nice is that he's always been a reliable decision-maker, and limiting turnovers will be key in this one.
Gators head coach Muschamp is known for his defensive philosophy, and he definitely confused Bray at times when the teams squared off last year in the Swamp.
Zero interceptions from Bray likely translates to a "W" for the home team, because the Volunteers simply have more weapons at their disposal and a definitive edge in the quarterback matchup.
This will be a heated battle, but the Volunteer offense will continue to build on its hot start and get revenge for last year's 33-23 defeat at Florida.
Final score: Tennessee 28, Florida 20
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