In the 1990s and early 2000s, Tennessee and Florida dominated the SEC Eastern Division. From 1992, when the league expanded and split into divisions, either Tennessee or Florida won the SEC East championship ten straight years, until Georgia finally broke that streak in 2002. In the nineteen years of divisional play, the Gators have claimed ten East crowns, the Vols five, and the Bulldogs four.
The last Tennessee visit to the Georgia Dome for the SEC Championship Game was in 2007, when the Vols lost to eventual National Champ LSU. Needless to say the Vols have recently fallen upon hard times, and for the last three seasons, so have the Gators. The numbers don't lie; Tennessee Coach Derek Dooley is now 0-10 against ranked teams, while second year Gator head coach Will Muschamp is 0-5. The Vols have now lost 17 of their last 18 games to ranked opponents, with their last win over a ranked team, coming in 2009 against South Carolina 31-13.(You remember.....the infamous "black-out" game when Lane Kiffen's Vols wore all black for the first time ever)
Tennessee-Florida week was always special. It's always been played early in the season, with the loser having to have some help climbing out of the hole and winning the SEC East. In the 2012 pre-season polls, both teams were picked to finish in the middle of the pack, with Georgia and South Carolina picked to fight it out for the title. Since both teams are now ranked in the top 25 poll, there is a little more excitement than we've seen in a while.
ESPN's College Game Day will be in Knoxville for the first time since the 2004 season, and even though attendance was awful at Neyland Stadium for last week's 51-13 win over Georgia State, It should really be rocking this Saturday night. However, there is one streak I haven't mentioned as yet; Florida has won seven straight times over the Vols, and most of those seven wins weren't really close at all. That is about to change.
The Vols are a much better team than the 5-7 squad from a year ago. Florida is also considerably better than last year, but with a practically brand new coaching staff assisting Coach Derek Dooley, the Vols are one of the most improved teams in the country. Coach Dooley doesn't really care to talk about all those streaks. He says they really have nothing to do with this year's game, and he is probably right. But to be 3-0 after the Florida game, with a higher national ranking next week in the polls, would be a huge step for Dooley's Vols.
I have never been good at all when picking winners in the Tennessee-Florida match-up.(I really don't know anyone who has picked them consistently well) When people have asked me, "What do you think about the Vols and the Gators", I have been at a loss for words in recent years. This year, is an exception. I feel strongly that Tennessee will win on Saturday night. The score; Tennessee 27 Florida 20. With a Vol win, "Pandemonium" will not reign as it did in 1998, but a Tennessee win would mean more for the series than if the Gators prevail. This series really does need a good "shot in the arm", and a Big Orange win on national television would be the best possible medicine.
Contact Randy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and teaches media concepts at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. His career has included a 17 year stint as scoreboard host and Kickoff Call In Show host on the widely regarded Vol Network. He has also done play-by-play on more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS, and other networks. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press, and he has won other major awards including "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee, twice. His "Friday Night Football Show on WRCB-TV twice won the award, "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" Randy has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to be elected to the "Great Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame" in 2003. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two children and three grandchildren. Christi and Chris Perry, (DellaMae) and Davey and Alison Smith (Coleman and Boone).
Randy Smith email@example.com
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Red Bank High School in Chattanooga. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).