Tennessee at Florida Prediction - College Football Picks 9/16/23
Florida Gators (1-1) vs Tennessee Volunteers (2-0)
Game Info: Saturday, September 16, 2023 at 7:00 pm (Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium)
Betting Odds: Florida Gators +7 -- Over/Under: 58.5 Click Here for the Latest Odds
It’s the third Saturday in September, which means the Tennessee Volunteers and the Florida Gators will be facing off to begin their conference slate, and this year’s contest will take place in Gainesville from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on ESPN. Tennessee and Florida have met in early September in each season since 1990, with the Gators holding a 31-21 all-time series lead. Tennessee won last year’s matchup, 38-33, snapping a five-game skid to Florida in Knoxville last season.
Tennessee Volunteers Preview
Tennessee moved to 2-0 after defeating in-state foe Austin Peay in their home opener, 30-17. The Volunteers trailed the Governors throughout the first half before cleaning things after the break, and they’ll have to be much sharper in the Swamp this weekend. Through two games, the Tennessee offense is scoring 38.0 ppg, while totaling 489.5 yards per game, gaining 285.0 ypg through the air, and rushing for 204.5 ypg.
Tennessee Player Notes
• Joe Milton III performed well statistically versus Austin Peay, protecting the ball, while passing for 228 yards, and scoring three touchdowns. Milton scored through the air for the second week in a row, and this will mark a homecoming spot for him. Back in July, the Pakohee native said, “I don’t lose in Florida”, and he’ll aim to live up to that legend this weekend after a so-so result in Week 2. Milton has 429 passing yards, with four touchdowns through the air and three on the ground through two weeks.
• Jaylen Wright and Jabari Small split the load again for the Vols this season. Neither has reached the endzone yet, but Wright has surpassed the 100-yard mark in the first two contests, while Small has rushed for 162 yards on 26 carries.
• Ramel Keyton scored in the win over APU, and he leads Tennessee in receiving yards (118), while Scotty White has a team-high ten receptions. Bru McCoy has added seven catches for 72 yards.
• The Tennessee defense held Austin Peay to 5/18 on third downs, while allowing 339 total yards, and one touchdown.
Florida Gators Preview
Florida enters at 1-1 defeating McNeese State at home by a final score of 49-7. The Gators handled business in their home opener, scoring the first 49 points, before allowing a backdoor cover on a late touchdown to the Cowboys. Through two contests, the Florida offense is averaging 453 total yards per game, passing for 283.5 ypg, while gaining 170.5 ypg on the ground.
Florida Player Notes
• Graham Mertz managed last week’s contest well versus McNeese State, going 14/17 for 193, with a passing and rushing touchdown. The former Wisconsin QB will now face his second test in a Gator uniform, and he’ll look to avenge the season-opening loss to Utah here. Mertz has passed for 526 yards, with two touchdowns to one interception.
• Montrell Johnson Jr. and Trevor Etienne have split the work thru two contests. Both backs struggled against the Utes, but they performed well in the home opener, with Johnson leading the way with 119 yards and two scores.
• Ricky Pearsall has performed well in both games, catching eight passes for 92 yards versus Utah, then going for 123 yards in the win over McNeese State.
• The Florida defense held McNeese State to 2/10 on third downs, while allowing just 112 total yards.
Corey’s Free Pick
This contest served as Tennessee’s coming out party last season, and while this matchup may be more daunting in the Swamp, there’s one battle we may be able to lean on here, and it’s quarterback battle. Joe Milton comes into this battle with plenty of motivation, while Graham Mertz enters what may be the biggest game of his college football career. Facing Ohio State or Michigan in an anticipated blowout, or even meeting Utah in Salt Lake City won’t compare to the pressure of this game Saturday night, and I think the moment may be too big for him. Milton’s coming into this hometown spot with last year’s Orange Bowl result in mind, and I believe he’ll deliver on his end. It may cut close, but this is Tennessee’s game to lose. Back the Volunteers for this SEC rivalry.