Tennessee's Time To Beat Florida Is Now

9/18/13 in NCAAF   |   BlakeLovell   |   86 respect

Aug 31, 2013; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers head coach Butch Jones runs through the T at the start of the game against the Austin Peay Governors at Neyland Stadium. Tennessee won 45 to nothing. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY SportsWhen you think of a rivalry, you think of two teams that really don't like each other exchanging wins over time.

While the former is still there, the latter hasn't been when it comes to the Florida vs. Tennessee rivalry.

The Gators have won eight straight meetings, and look to extend that number to nine on Saturday afternoon when they host the Vols in Gainesville.

However, here's the thing -- this is Tennessee's best chance to win in years.

That may be hard to believe after Butch Jones' team got pounded at Oregon by 45 points, but it's true.

For starters, the '07 Florida Gators aren't walking through that door. Yes, Florida wasn't at full strength in their lackluster win against Toledo. And yes, they lost to a solid team in Miami. But the fact of the matter is, this team isn't all that good right now. Especially the offense, since they turned it over five times in the loss to the Hurricanes.

So to say that this Florida team is vulnerable would be an understatement. 

Will Muschamp's squad might be ranked, but nothing about them has screamed "ranked team" thus far this season. Simply put, they're nowhere close to the Florida teams that have given the Vols so much trouble in recent years.

That's why Tennessee has to take advantage of this opportunity and end the streak now.

Don't get me wrong, the Vols haven't exactly looked like world-beaters themselves. Still though, Jones has them heading in the right direction, and has them believing that the culture is no longer the same as it was during the Derek Dooley era in Knoxville. 

Wins over Austin Peay and Western Kentucky might have been meaningless in terms of gaining national spotlight, but they did show a spark that we haven't seen from this program in several years.

The beatdown at Oregon might have taken their momentum down a notch, which is understandable. The game caused Jones to open up the quarterback competition, and also re-evaluate some things on the defensive side of the ball.

But despite the challenges and setbacks, the Vols understand what's at stake on Saturday in The Swamp. It's a chance to prove that a new era has officially arrived for Tennessee football. 

And perhaps, more importantly, it's a chance to make Florida vs. Tennessee one of the best rivalries in college football once again.

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