I'll be breaking down each of the 2008 Florida Gators' opponents and making predictions game by game. Please feel free to give your input and make your opinions known throughout the series. I am happy to discuss the games.
Game Three vs. Tennessee, September 20
Info: The Tennessee Volunteers had a successful 2007 season, finishing with a 10-4 record. However, the 2007 Volunteers were very inconsistent throughout the season. Tennessee looked dominant in blowout victories over Georgia and Arkansas, but seemed awfully overmatched in lopsided losses to Florida and Alabama.
Despite their "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" performance last season, Tennessee won the SEC Eastern Division and finished the season with a 21-17 victory over Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl.
Offseason: Tennessee’s offseason was an eventful one. It began with offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe leaving the Vols to take the head coaching job at Duke. This marks the second time Cutcliffe has left head coach Phil Fulmer’s staff for a head coaching position. The previous occurrence coming when Cutcliffe took the Ole Miss coaching job in 1998.
Dave Clawson, the former head coach of the Richmond Spiders, will replace Cutcliffe as Tennessee's offensive coordinator this fall.
Clawson will certainly have a lot of talent to work with in 2008. The Volunteers return eight starters on the offensive side of the ball, including star running back Arian Foster. Foster amassed 1,193 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns for the Vols last season.
However, there will be a huge void to fill at quarterback with the loss of former starting quarterback Erik Ainge to graduation. Redshirt junior Jonathan Crompton is considered the favorite to take over for Ainge in 2008.
2008 Outlook: Although the Volunteers aren’t the popular pick, they have an outside shot at repeating as SEC East Champions. However, recording a second straight 10-win season would be a daunting task for Phil Fulmer’s football team.
Tennessee has three tough road dates with UCLA, Auburn, and No. 1 Georgia. The Vols should be a decent team in 2008, but don’t expect them to finish any higher than third in the SEC East Division.
Game Prediction: Florida 34 – Tennessee 14
In a rivalry game that often determines the winner of the SEC East, Urban Meyer will get the better of Tennessee once again this fall. Although this year's contest won't be as lopsided as Florida's 59-20 victory in the 2007 affair, the Gators will control this game from start to finish.
Florida will look to spread the ball around on offense, get on the scoreboard early and often, and take the crowd out of the game.
The major concern for the Gators, however, is containing Vols running back Arian Foster. Foster is a very explosive tailback and has an uncanny ability to change directions quickly without sacrificing speed. However, Florida’s improved defensive unit, led by linebacker Brandon Spikes, will get the job done and deliver for the Gators.
The Florida Gators improve to 3-0 with a win over rival Tennessee and begin preparation for their matchup with Ole Miss in “the Swamp” on September 27.