Tennessee opens SEC play this Saturday when the rival Florida Gators come to Neyland Stadium for a 7:00 p.m. kickoff on ESPN.
While Florida has won 12 of the last 13 games in the series, the last four meetings have been extremely close games usually decided in the final minutes.
Here are the RTT staff members’ predictions for what will happen in the 2018 iteration of the Tennessee—Florida rivalry.
Conner Knapp: Florida 17, Tennessee 13
As is usually the case by Friday, I have almost talked myself out of whatever concerns I have in relation to the Vols and blindly thrown my faith behind them.
I just can’t pick Tennessee to beat Florida again. I’ve been burned too many times.
I think this is going to be a close game decided in the fourth quarter, but I just can’t pick Tennessee to win this game which it has struggled to put away in recent years.
Terry Lambert: Tennessee 17, Florida 16
I told myself to never pick the Vols in this series again, at least until Tennessee proves to be competent once again. But here I am, coming back for more.
Pruitt seems confident in the week that his team has had on the practice field and I think Neyland will be absolutely rocking on Saturday.
It’s going to be an ugly one, but I think the Vols — specifically Jarrett Guarantano — find a way to get this one done.
Evan Winter: Florida 26, Tennessee 21
Per usual, this game is a toss-up. But I feel more comfortable with Florida’s loss to Kentucky than I do the Vols’ loss to West Virginia.
I just don’t think this team nor staff is ready for SEC play. While the defense has improved, Tyson Helton seems like he is still figuring things out.
The key is the offensive line and the home crowd, but I don’t think the Vols play consistent enough to win.
Noah Taylor: Tennessee 20, Florida 19
Has there been a game in major college football as unpredictable as the Florida-Tennessee game has been in recent memory? This one will be no exception.
I haven’t seen enough from either team-who are both going through big transitions-to be confident either way. But with what promises to be an electric environment under the lights at Neyland Stadium on Saturday night, I think Florida struggles in their first road game which will result in a mistake or two that decides the game.
But, then again, the complete opposite could happen. Who knows?
Austin Burlage: Florida 19, Tennessee 13
There is a lot to feel good about here if you’re a Vols fan. The Gators don’t have great QB play. They’re playing their first road game of the year in front of what will likely be a totally insane Neyland Stadium crowd. They recently lost to Kentucky for the first time in decades.
Here’s the thing, though. Tennessee has yet to do anything offensively in their first three games that would lead me to believe they will have the offense needed to win this game. Sure, the Vols have some extremely talented players. But for whatever reason it just hasn’t seemed to click yet as a whole. The Vols put up 24 at home against UTEP. That’s a touchdown less than what FCS Northern Arizona put on UTEP when the Miners were at home.
It sounds like Tennessee has had a great week of practice, and that’s encouraging. I think it’s close. Tennessee may even have a shot at the end. But I’m skeptical that we’ll be able to punch it in enough to come out with a victory.