In 2017 both Florida and Tennessee hit rock bottom when their four-win seasons prompted them to both to make a coaching change. As they prepare to meet again Saturday, the programs are no longer trending in the same direction. The No. 6 Gators (7-1) enter with coach Dan Mullen holding a 28-6 record in his third season, the best start through 34 games for a coach in program history. Meanwhile, Tennessee's Jeremy Pruitt is 15-17 in the same timeframe.
The Volunteers (2-5) have dropped five straight and could desperately use the jolt of momentum that an upset victory over their SEC East rival would provide. Florida, on the other hand, has its sights set on an SEC title and potential College Football Playoff appearance. Mullen's squad is loaded with playmakers, including a Heisman Trophy candidate in quarterback Kyle Trask.
Tennessee is in the midst of quarterback woes with redshirt senior Jarrett Guarantano proving ineffective in second-year offensive coordinator Jim Chaney's system. But the Vols have proven they can run the football this season, and Mullen will want to see some improvement from his defense this week as the Gators try extend Tennessee's misery and continue their own march to the postseason.
Date: Saturday, Dec. 5 | Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Neyland Stadium -- Knoxville, Tennessee
TV: CBS | Live stream: CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free)
OTT: CBS Sports App (Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast)
Florida: Gators quarterback Kyle Trask and tight end Kyle Pitts continued their dominance of the SEC last week when Pitts returned after missing two games and caught three touchdown passes in a 34-10 win over Kentucky. If not for the time he's missed, Pitts would likely be a Heisman Trophy candidate, but his quarterback has emerged as the potential favorite for the stiff-arm award. Trask has thrown for 2,810 yards, 34 touchdowns and just three interceptions while completing 71.4% of his passes this season. It's all building toward an expected Florida-Alabama showdown in the SEC Championship Game where Trask would go against another Heisman contender in Alabama quarterback Mac Jones. But Trask can continue to build his case before then by leading the Gators to a comfortable win with another prolific passing effort on Saturday.
Tennessee: Pruitt dismissed Kivon Bennett, Tennessee's leader in tackles for loss and sacks, on Tuesday after he was arrested on gun and drug charges. It was just the latest in a series of frustrating twists for a season that began with promise. The Volunteers began the year 2-0, extending their winning streak to eight games overall. But the program's momentum fell off a cliff after the Volunteers rose to No. 14 and took a lead into halftime at Georgia. Tennessee ended up losing that game 44-21 and has dropped five straight games overall. Redshirt senior quarterback Jarrett Guarantano has been one of the primary sources of frustration for the fan base because of his inaccuracy and costly turnovers. Three backups have also seen action at the position this season, so it will be interesting to see how Pruitt handles his quarterbacks against the Gators.
Florida at Tennessee expert pick
Tennessee's ability to run the ball suggests it may be able to generate some measure of offense against a Florida defense that is not necessarily elite. But there's little else to indicate the Volunteers will keep it competitive. Florida's offense is simply too explosive and should provide enough cover for its defense to relinquish a couple of touchdowns without the Volunteers covering this spread. Pick: Florida (-17.5)