The college football rivalry between the Florida Gators and the Tennessee Volunteers is a newer rivalry by college football standards. Although both teams have been in the same conference since 1910, the “Third Saturday in September” was played only twenty-one times in the first seventy-six years of the rivalry from 1916 - 1991. It wasn’t until re-alignment in the Southeastern Conference in 1992 were the two football powerhouses pitted together on a regular basis. Since both teams were placed in the eastern division, they have now played a home and home series every year since.
Almost immediately the rivalry had juice with the Volunteers led by Phil Fulmer and the Gators with Steve Spurrier each having national championship caliber squads. From 1993 on, Fulmer provided Volunteer fans with excellent football teams, winning 9 or more games in 5 of Fulmer’s first 6 full seasons as head coach. His one bugaboo however was against the Gators.
Even with Peyton Manning at the helm of these excellent Tennessee teams, Tennessee lost to Florida in each of his first 5 meetings as the Old Ball Coach seemingly had the number of Fulmer. It wasn’t until 1998, after Manning had graduated and everyone expected a fallback for Tennessee, that Fulmer broke through against Florida.
I believe rivalry is starting to swing, and look forward to documenting the next 10 years on this page, in this article.
The Volunteers won the game 20-17 behind a stout defense, suitable quarterback play by Tee Martin and a game-tying field goal attempt by Florida kicker Collins Cooper soaring wide left as time expired. Unfortunately, this positive moment for Fullmer and Tennessee did not lead to much sustained success in the rivalry come the turn of the Century as Florida has won 16 of the 20 games this millennium and has won 14 of the last 15. Let’s take a look at the last ten outings to see any trends of the recent history in this heated, yet largely one sided rivalry.
2010: Florida wins 31-17, The Gators stifling rush defense held Tennessee to 1.3 Yards Per Carry and forced three turnovers to win comfortably in Knoxville. Tennessee would finish the year 6-7 while the Gators would finish 8-5 in Urban Meyer’s final year at the helm.
2011: Florida wins 33-23, An 83 yard touchdown to Chris Rainey gave Florida a 30-7 lead with eight minutes to go in the third quarter. The Gators would coast to a decisive victory withstanding an alarming 16 penalties.
2012: Florida wins 37-20, The gators would start the downfall for the Derek Dooley tenure in Knoxville after coming into the game ranked but eventually lose by three scores. After being up 20-17 midway through the 3rd quarter, the Gators would score 3 touchdowns and add a field goal to shut the door. Dooley would be fired at the end of the year going 0-3 vs. the Gators.
2013: Florida wins 31-17, Quarterbacks Justin Worley and Nathan Peterman combined to throw 4 interceptions and the Volunteers put it on the turf to lose 2 fumbles as well. The 6 TO’s combined with 215 yards on the ground for the Gators led to yet another comfortable win.
2014: Florida Wins 10-9, Three Aaron Medley field goals gave the Volunteers a 9-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but a strip sack of Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley led to the only Touchdown of the game, followed by a prolonged drive ending in the game winning field goal for Florida with 6 minutes to go in the game.
2015: Florida wins 28-27, A Jalen Hurd rushing Touchdown with 10:19 left in the game gave Tennessee a 27-14 lead and was seemingly the icing on top of the cake that was Tennessee ending their losing streak, but Will Grier responded by throwing two touchdown passes down the stretch to steal the win at home.
2016: Tennessee wins 38-28, In the infamous “Nobody has ever seen a duck pull a truck” reference, Tennessee pulled out a masterful comeback after falling behind 21-0 early in the game. A Joshua Dobbs led Tennessee team scored 38 straight points and on this day, the duck certainly pulled a truck.
2017: Florida wins 26-20, Although the game was back and forth and Tennessee even outgained the Gators, but in the end, it was Tennessee never led and a Felipe Franks hail mary pass with 9 seconds to go gave the Gators a victory from the grasp of defeat when everyone anticipated an Overtime result.
2018: Florida wins 47-21, Jeremy Pruitt came to Tennessee with hopes of being able to change the tide in the series, but in his first game as head coach, it was more of the same. Tennessee turned the ball over 6 times, and the Gators rolled to an easy victory.
2019: Florida wins 34-3, This season has not gone the way of the Volunteers, and this result certainly didn’t help. A 17-0 halftime lead was only extended for the Gators as they accumulated 441 total yards and pushed their rival to a difficult 1-3 start to Pruitt’s second season.
Is it possible for the tables to turn in the 2020 Season? Is it possible for the Vols to go 9-1 against Florida the next 10 years? We think so, what about you?