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College football preview: Florida at Tennessee, noon Saturday, SEC, 620-AM

Published Oct. 4, 2014

Florida at Tennessee, noon, SEC Network, 620-AM

The Volunteers (2-2, 0-1 SEC) are trying to snap a nine-game losing streak to the Gators (2-1, 1-1), in which Florida has outscored Tennessee 281-143. Florida has won eight of 10 games in Knoxville since 1994. This marks a homecoming of sorts for Gators offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, who began his coaching career at Tennessee.

Watch out for … Can the Gators convert on third down? The Vols lead the conference in third-down conversion defense, while the Gators are 13th in the league in third-down conversions. If Florida gets into too many third-and-long situations, it could struggle just like it did at Alabama two weeks ago. Also, who will win the rushing battle? Traditionally in this series, the team that has more rushing yards wins the game. For UF, that might be even more critical this time. The Gators need to establish the run to take pressure off QB Jeff Driskel and a passing game that has been inconsistent this season. Tennessee freshman RB Jaylen Hurd has rushed for 328 yards and two touchdowns in four games. Can Florida capitalize on defense? The Vols replaced five seniors from last season's offensive line, and they are still a work in progress, which might give the Gators an opportunity for a more effective pass rush than they have been able to have up to this point.

Antonya English, Times staff writer