Gators own rivalry with Vols

June, 13, 2012
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[+] EnlargeJaye Howard
Kim Klement/US PresswireThe Gator defense was tough on Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray last season in a 33-23 victory in Gainesville, Fla.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida-Tennessee used to be one of the better rivalries in the Southeastern Conference.

And Florida used to own it under Steve Spurrier, going 8-4 against the Vols from 1990-2001. But UF lost control of the series during Ron Zook’s tenure, losing two of the three games from 2002-04. And they were heart-breakers -- the Hail Mary right before halftime in 2003 and the late Dallas Baker personal foul in 2004.

That changed under Urban Meyer, who placed a huge emphasis on winning "rivalry games." He went 17-2 in games against Tennessee, Georgia, Miami and Florida State, including a 6-0 mark against the Vols.

Will Muschamp went 1-2 in rivalry games in his first season -- but the one victory was over Tennessee.

The Gators have won seven in a row over the Vols, including the last three meetings in Knoxville. This year’s game will be Sept. 15 in Knoxville. Here’s a look at the winning streak:

2005: The streak started with a 16-7 victory in Gainesville. Chris Hetland kicked three field goals, and UF held UT to 213 total yards.

2006: Tim Tebow converted a critical fourth down, and Chris Leak threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Dallas Baker two plays later to give the Gators a 21-20 victory. Reggie Nelson sealed the victory by intercepting Erik Ainge’s fourth-down pass with 2:42 remaining.

2007: Tebow accounted for four touchdowns (two rushing, two passing) and threw for 299 yards in the 59-20 rout. UF out-rushed UT 255-37 and the Gators scored TDs on defense and special teams.

2008: Tebow threw for just 96 yards, but he had two TD passes in the 30-6 victory. The Vols out-gained the Gators but committed three turnovers. Jonathan Phillips kicked three field goals.

2009: Caleb Sturgis kicked three field goals, and Ahmad Black sealed the 23-13 victory by intercepting Jonathan Crompton’s fourth-down pass with 1:51 to play.

2010: Mike Gillislee ran for two touchdowns, and UF’s defense held UT to just 29 yards rushing in the 31-17 victory. It was the first time in series history the Gators had won on three consecutive trips to Knoxville.

2011: Florida held Tennessee to minus-9 yards rushing in the 33-23 victory. Chris Rainey ran for 108 yards, and John Brantley threw for 213 yards and two touchdowns.

Mike DiRocco | email

ESPN Jacksonville Jaguars reporter

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Muschamp thinks 50-50 balls may decide game
Florida football coach Will Muschamp joined The Paul Finebaum Show to discuss the Gators' game against Alabama.
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