College football: Can Florida put Tennessee on upset alert in Week 3?

Gainesville, Florida - Will the Florida football deliver a major upset against the Tennessee Volunteers in the SEC's third Saturday of September rivalry showdown?

Will the Florida Gators deliver a major upset against the Tennessee Volunteers in the SEC's third Saturday of September rivalry showdown?
Will the Florida Gators deliver a major upset against the Tennessee Volunteers in the SEC's third Saturday of September rivalry showdown?  © James Gilbert / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

The No.11 Tennessee Volunteers have not won a showdown in Gainesville in 20 years. Could this year change that drastic drought?

Tennessee will enter Florida's territory as the favorites, but the Gators' head coach won't be taking the big SEC rivalry lightly, especially after a disappointing loss last season.

Despite the college football world's skepticism following the Gators' disappointing 24-11 season opener loss to Utah, it's important to note that their defense limited the opponent to just 270 total offensive yards, helping keep the game competitive.

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On the offensive side of the ball, there's a need to prove themselves, especially since dominating McNeese State isn't a significant achievement. However, quarterback Graham Mertz has been exceptional thus far. Even more, he's quietly outperformed Tanner Mordecai, his successor at Wisconsin, by completing an impressive 74% of his passes for 526 yards and two touchdowns.

If the Gators' offensive line can provide Mertz with even a small amount of time to operate against the formidable Vol pass rush, then Florida has a real chance of upsetting Tennessee in what would be the biggest upset of Week 3.

Will Tennessee's defense prove too much for a Florida win?

Tennessee leads the nation in both sacks and tackles for loss and will pose as a big threat to Florida's offense.
Tennessee leads the nation in both sacks and tackles for loss and will pose as a big threat to Florida's offense.  © James Gilbert / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

The Vols lead the nation in both sacks and tackles for loss, showcasing their ability to create defensive pressure from various positions on the field. In contrast, Florida has struggled in this aspect.

And while Tennessee is without its star quarterback Hendon Hooker who graduated to the NFL this past April, the overall production from the Vols has been great!

In the first two weeks of the season, the team has achieved an impressive balance, surpassing 200 yards in both rushing and receiving.

Tennessee currently ranks fourth in the nation in rushing yards and will be expected to rush against Florida's defense as much as possible.

Florida and Tennessee's rivalry showdown is set for Saturday at 7 PM EDT airing on ESPN.

Cover photo: James Gilbert / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

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