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PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: ALEX BROWN

Barometric pressure is used to measure the Earth's atmosphere, but if you're looking to get a reading on the Florida defense, try Alex Brown's sinus pressure.

"For some reason, Alex always sneezes like crazy before the game," senior defensive end Thaddeus Bullard said. "I was his roommate last year and he sneezed before every game. I used to ask him if he needed me to go get a trainer. But every time he sneezed like that, he ended up getting a sack in that game, or two sacks, or more."

Brown, a junior All-America rush end, blew onto the national scene with five sacks in last season's 23-21 victory against Tennessee. Most in the UF program rank it as the most dominating one-man performance ever witnessed.

Brown was named USA Today's national player of the week after 5 sacks for minus-29 yards, 1 forced fumble, 1 interception, 2 pass deflections and 1 quarterback hurry.

Brown got an incredible jump from the line of scrimmage, having picked up a subtle indicator on the exchange from center. Tennessee refused to double team Brown, or even use a running back to slow his progress to quarterback Tee Martin.

"Hopefully, whatever tip he had, he won't have it this year," UT coach Phillip Fulmer said. "Obviously, we can't let him disrupt the game as he did last year."

Brown, who set a UF record with 13 sacks last season, believes he can play a bigger role against Tennessee this season. Potentially, he could make a big play on every snap.

"There are a lot of numbers that come after five," he said.

If his nose truly is an indicator, the Vols could be in trouble again. Brown had the sniffles Tuesday.

"If he has the sniffles at the start of the week," Bullard said, "then he may have a full-blown virus by the time Saturday comes."

THE ROOTS OF EVIL

Most believe the Florida-Tennessee rivalry took shape in 1992 when the Southeastern Conference split into divisions, putting the Gators and Vols at odds in the East. Florida coach Steve Spurrier claims it started before that.

"They were a rivalry in 1990 when Coach (Johnny) Majors ran up the score on us 45-3. We put the second team in while they were running it up. I always kidded him that, "We let you run it up on us so Alabama could come up and beat you the next week.' "

RUNNING TO WIN

The winner of the Florida-Tennessee game the past 10 seasons has been the team with more rushing yards. The winner has rushed for an average of 162.4 yards, the loser 58.5. The winner has passed for an average of 221.5 yards, the loser 310.5.

SAVING THE DAY

Florida recorded its first shutout since 1996 in Saturday's 55-0 victory against Middle Tennessee State, and it has offensive guard Tom Hillard to thank. Hillard, a second-teamer, made a touchdown-saving tackle after a fourth-quarter interception. "Tom ran pretty far to tackle the guy," offensive tackle Mike Pearson said. "Maybe that's his claim to fame this week, something he can put up on his refrigerator and say, "Hey, I did this.' "

MOST SUCCESSFUL ACTIVE COACHES

Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer has the best winning percentage among active Division I-A coaches, but it would be better if it weren't for Florida. Six of his 14 career losses have been to the Gators:

1. Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee 77-14 (.846)

2. Lloyd Carr, Michigan 51-13 (.797)

3. Joe Paterno, Penn State 318-85-3 (.787)

4. Bobby Bowden, FSU 306-85-4 (.780)

5. Steve Spurrier, Florida 124-35-2 (.776)

QUOTABLE

"In the back of their minds they really know they can't beat us. They're waiting for a big play or big break, something happening like us fumbling the ball or giving them a big opportunity to score. They know when a team from Florida comes, we are bringing it."

_ UF defensive tackle Gerard Warren, on Florida's intimidation of Tennessee.

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