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12:30 PM PT1:30 PM MT2:30 PM CT3:30 PM ET8:30 PM GMT4:30 AM 北京时间1:30 PM MST3:30 PM EST, Dec. 5, 2020
Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee  Attendance: 22,943

No. 6 Florida looks to clinch SEC East vs. Tennessee

Florida Gators at Tennessee Volunteers

  1. The Gators have won 14 of the last 15 games against the Volunteers, with an average point differential of 12.9 points in that span. Florida has lost just one of its last seven trips to Knoxville, dropping a 38-28 decision in 2016.
  2. Florida defeated Kentucky, 34-10, to improve to 7-1 for the third consecutive season. The Gators have scored 30+ points in each of their last 10 games, the second-longest active streak in the FBS; only Alabama (21) is riding a longer streak.
  3. Kyle Trask notched three touchdown passes in the win over Kentucky and leads FBS with 34 this season, the most by any player through eight team games in SEC history. He now sits at 60 career passing touchdowns through 24 career games, tying Rex Grossman and Kentucky's Tim Couch as the fastest SEC players to reach 60 career touchdowns.
  4. After a 2-0 start, Tennessee has lost five straight games, allowing an average of 36.0 points per game over that streak. The Volunteers look to avoid a six-game losing streak that would match the longest skid in program history, done most recently in September/October 1988.
  5. Eric Gray leads the Volunteers with 132 rushes and is tied for the team lead with 22 receptions, one of five FBS players to lead his teams in both categories. He's accounted for 35.8 percent of the Volunteers' scrimmage yards this season, the highest share among SEC players and sixth highest among Power 5 players.

No. 6 Florida and Tennessee are set to square off for the 50th time in a series usually simply called the "Third Saturday in September," and the Southeastern Conference rivals are trending in opposite directions.

On Saturday afternoon at legendary Neyland Stadium, the visiting Gators (7-1, 7-1 SEC) -- winners of five straight since losing to Texas A&M -- can clinch the SEC East with a victory against the Volunteers or a Georgia loss against winless Vanderbilt.

A division title would be the Gators' first since 2016, which would send them to Atlanta on Dec. 19 for the SEC Championship Game, likely against undefeated and top-ranked Alabama.

Meanwhile, the Volunteers (2-5, 2-5 SEC) -- who have dropped 14 of their last 15 contests against Florida -- are mired in the division's basement below three-win Kentucky but ahead of South Carolina (2-7, 2-7 SEC) and Vanderbilt (0-8, 0-8 SEC).

That could spell a big advantage for the Gators, who hold a 29-20 edge in the rivalry.

The news for coach Dan Mullen's team became even better when Kyle Pitts returned and made major contributions in Saturday's 34-10 home win over Kentucky.

Kyle Trask's go-to target during the quarterback's 34-touchdown campaign so far, Pitts responded by hauling in three touchdown passes from Trask in a game Florida trailed 10-7 late in the first half.

Pitts caught five passes for a game-high 99 yards and increased his touchdown total to 11 on 29 receptions (513 yards, 17.7 yards per catch) after missing previous games against Vanderbilt and Arkansas.

"I was real jittery," said Pitts, the leading candidate for the Mackey Award as the game's top tight end. "Because, not playing for two weeks, my chest kind of got hot and my heart beat fast so ... I was a little nervous at first."

Things aren't so good on Rocky Top, where a nasty, five-game losing streak has criticism reaching a peak as high as the nearby Smoky Mountains.

Tennessee's biggest hurdle continues to be at quarterback, where Jarrett Guarantano (103-for-166 passing, 1,112 yards, 6 TDs, 4 INTs) has been wildly inconsistent. The team also has been outscored 108-14 in the second halves of the last five games.

Against Auburn, Guarantano led the Vols to a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter, but the senior signal-caller was largely ineffective the rest of the way in the 30-17 loss. He made matters worse when he tossed a 100-yard pick-six to the Tigers' Smoke Monday.

Highly regarded freshman Harrison Bailey replaced Guarantano and went 7-for-10 passing for 86 yards and led the Vols to their final touchdown.

Coach Jeremy Pruitt said Monday that two players are COVID-19 positive from the Nov. 17 game in Auburn, and contact tracing has put up to 16 players in quarantine -- including one quarterback that remained unnamed by the third-year coach.

That means either Guarantano, Bailey, J.T. Shrout or Brian Maurer will likely be unavailable Saturday.

With Tennessee's season spinning toward its end, the time could be right for Bailey, a four-star prospect from Marietta, Ga., to make his first career start in place of the senior Guarantano.

In fact, starting wide receiver Josh Palmer may have provided a hint in Tuesday's media session.

"He's calm and cool and collected," Palmer said of the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Bailey. "I feel like we have a really good game plan for him."

--Field Level Media

Updated December 1, 2020

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