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Tennessee opens as big underdogs at Florida

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Florida week.

Now the real season begins, following three non-conference games to open the Josh Heupel era. Tennessee sits at 2-1, picking up wins over Bowling Green and Tennessee Tech while dropping a game against Pittsburgh.

Now, as per tradition, the Volunteers open up SEC play with a matchup against the Florida Gators. The game has some really interesting timing to it, with Florida coming off of a narrow loss to Alabama. That game went down to the wire, with the Gators coming up short on a two-point conversion attempt that would have tied the game.

How will Florida respond? According to Vegas, they should respond with a blowout win over rival Tennessee. The Gators opened as 22 point favorites over the Volunteers on Sunday, and that number has come down sharply in some places. Per FanDuel Sportsbook, Tennessee is currently +19.5.

Whether you want to call this a potential letdown spot or not for Florida, Tennessee has their own issues to sort out. The Volunteers still have an unknown at quarterback after Joe Milton sat out against Tennessee Tech. After back to back solid performances out of Hendon Hooker, will the staff turn back to the struggling Milton in a big spot on the road? Will Milton even be available to play after his injury?

For what it’s worth, Milton was still on top of the depth chart that was released today, although Heupel wouldn’t say whether or not the Michigan transfer would play on Saturday.

Tennessee also has several other injury situations, most notably in starting center Cooper Mays and running back Jabari Small. Florida could also get back quarterback Anthony Richardson, who was held out against Alabama.

It’s the first SEC test for Josh Heupel and his staff, and we couldn’t have more questions going into this one.

Tennessee and Florida are set for a 7 p.m. kickoff on Saturday night in Gainesville. ESPN will have the coverage.