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Gators vs. Tennessee Volunteers Pick
Tennessee Volunteers (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS) at No. 16 Florida Gators (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS), Saturday September 17th, 2001. 3:30PM EST, College Football Week 3
The Swamp at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium Gainesville, FL
By Jay Horne, College Football Handicapper of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Ten +9/Fla -9
Over/Under Total: OFF
Over the years, the Tennessee and Florida rivalry has been one of the most entertaining rivalries in the SEC. Each year the Gators and Volunteers kick off conference play by squaring off against each other in hopes for great seasons. Several years ago, this meeting could nearly identify the future SEC Champions as it was normally a two horse race between both Florida and Tennessee each year. However over the last decade or so, the Volunteers fell out of the SEC elite and they have desperately been trying to fight their way back to the top of the SEC.
In fact, outsiders may find it hard to believe that it has been 7 long years since the Volunteers beat the Gators. However, slowly but surely Tennessee appears to be rebuilding back into a national power. Most experts believe the Volunteers are a year or two from really contending to make a run at the SEC Title. While that remains to be seen, one certainty is that this could possibly be Tennessees best chance to slay the mighty Gators in recent memory when the two teams square off inside The Swamp this Saturday.
The no. 16 Gators will enter the contest as heavy 9 point favorites over the Volunteers. Through the opening two games, the Gators have played very well outscoring inferior opponents in Florida Atlantic and UAB by a combined score of 80-3. The Gators scoring defense currently ranks 1st in the nation through the first two games and 6th overall allowing 174 yards per game. While those numbers appear great, many would argue that is because Florida has yet to play a quality opponent. Still, the defense has appeared extremely solid. Perhaps we will know just how good this Gators defense truly is this Saturday when they line up against an emerging Tennessee offense.
The Volunteers are coming off a big 45-23 win over Cincinnati last week. The Volunteers entered that game as 7 point favorites, but completely blew away the Bearcats defense in route to 531 yards of total offense. The story of the game was QB Tyler Bray who shredded the Cincinnati defense by completing 34 of 41 passing for 405 yards with 4 touchdowns and 0 picks. It was the 2nd straight big performance from Bray which should be very encouraging for the Tennessee offense. Bray suffered through some growing pains in his freshman season a year ago, but seems to be much improved through the start of 2011.
Additionally, the Volunteers offense has received solid support from their running attack. Tailback Tauren Poole carried the offense last season because of the inconsistent passing game. This season Poole has not had as much responsibility on the ground thus far, but has still been effective averaging 4.4 yards per carry. Poole has posted 199 yards on the season and if the passing game continues to excel then he could become even more dangerous if defenses have to focus on stopping the pass.
For the Gators, their offense has also been impressive thus far this season as well. Florida has averaged just less than 500 yards per game through their opening two contests. The Gators rushing attack has been superb averaging 248 yards per game. Tailbacks Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps have contributed the most firepower for the offense. Rainey is an all-purpose threat that can be used in a variety of ways. Rainey leads the team in rushing with 198 yards on the ground while averaging 7.3 yards per carry. Rainey also currently leads the team in receiving with 110 yards on 9 catches. Additionally, Demps is a proven big play threat out of the back field that has posted 115 yards on the season and it is only a matter of time before he makes another big play.
Florida QB John Brantley has performed decent so far this season despite the Gators needing little help from their passing attack. Brantley has completed 67% passing for 424 yards with 1 score and 2 picks. This week it will be interesting to see if Brantley is needed to play a bigger role in the offense. Surely, Tennessee will put attention to the Florida rushing attack. If the Volunteers can successfully slow down the Gators rushing attack, it will be interesting to see how Brantley performs against better competition.
Jays Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This will be Tennessees best chance to beat Florida in some time and they are getting a lot of points to work with here. I think the Volunteers offense is under rated and they will have a chance to win this game. Take Tennessee +9.
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