Gators own rivalry with Vols

June, 13, 2012
ESPN’s GatorNation brings you the 30 things you need to know about Florida’s upcoming 2012 season. For 30 weekdays, we’ll preview games, talk about trends, spotlight players and positions, and give you pretty much everything you need to know to be ready for the season before the Sept. 1 opener against Bowling Green.

[+] 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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