Tennessee vs. Florida: Expert Pick and Prediction – September 16, 2023
TENNESSEE VS. FLORIDA: EXPERT PICK AND PREDICTION – September 16, 2023 — With the SEC going to no divisions next season, there’s no guarantee as to when Tennessee will be back in Gainesville. The Volunteers and Gators have traditionally been the Third Saturday in September ever since the SEC created divisions in 1992, but with Florida tied to Georgia as its main rival, Tennessee and Florida will likely move to an every-other-year matchup.
That adds to the stakes for Tennessee, because the Volunteers want to put an end to their losing streak in the Swamp. The Volunteers have lost nine straight in Gainesville, and they haven’t managed to win two straight over Florida since 2004. But this represents their best chance in Gainesville in years, as Florida looks subpar to this point in the season. The Gators did little to nothing in Week 1 at Utah, and while Week 2 was a bit better, it was also against McNeese State.
The Vols haven’t exactly played much of a challenging schedule to this point, but they’ve at least looked the part of a realistic SEC title challenger. They did look very good in dispatching Virginia in Week 1, and they’ve taken enough abuse from Florida over the years to make this a revenge game on the slate. For the Gators, it’s a chance to prove that what they showed in Week 1 wasn’t indicative of what they’ll be all season. If they don’t produce a better showing than the opening week, it’s going to be another long year for Billy Napier’s team.
(2-0 SU, 1-1-0 ATS)
(1-1 SU, 0-2-0 ATS)
When: Saturday, September 16th at 7 p.m. EDT
Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, Fla.
Public Bets: 80% on Tennessee
Public Money: 64% on Tennessee
Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of September 14th, 2023.
Tennessee vs. Florida In-Season Trends
This matchup’s gotten ugly over the years, as Tennessee just hadn’t been able to compete with Florida until last season. The Gators have won 16 of the past 18 matchups and have usually had no trouble putting up points on the Tennessee defense. On the Vols’ past six trips to Gainesville, the Gators have scored at least 26 points and left with the win every time.
That’s one big reason why Florida’s gone 14-5 ATS in this rivalry over the past 19 years. Here’s the other reason: Tennessee’s offense usually doesn’t show up in Gainesville. During the nine-game losing streak, only the 2015 game saw the Vols score more than 24 points on Florida. Usually, Tennessee is only good for 17 points or less, which hasn’t been anywhere near enough to take down Florida.
Be sure to check the forecast before this game. Rain and thunderstorms are slated to hit the Gainesville area on Saturday, and if it comes at the wrong time, it could turn the field into a mess. The 88 degree temperatures won’t affect things too much, but if the field becomes a muddy mess, it’s going to be hard for either side to get things going.
Either Florida needs to learn how to run the ball in a hurry, or Graham Mertz will have to do everything. Tennessee has mostly played solid against the run, although the Vols’ defense really hasn’t faced anyone of significance yet. But the Florida run game has been pathetic, rushing for just 13 yards against Utah in the first game of the season.
Tennessee had a big edge last year with Hendon Hooker under center, and Joe Milton will need to show he can do similar things. Last season, even though Florida covered, Tennessee was never in danger of losing the game because Hooker threw for 349 yards and the Vols gained 227 on the ground. The new clock rules won’t allow for that much offense, but Milton should still be able to put up yardage.
Neither side has looked all that impressive to start the year, but Tennessee looks to be in better shape. The Volunteers can run the ball well and seem to have the right quarterback. The jury’s still out on Florida’s quarterback, and the run game remains essentially non-existent for the Gators.
That’s not a recipe for success with Tennessee out to even some scores. The Vols should finally get a win in Gainesville.