Tennessee 38, Florida 28. Here’s what matters about the Volunteer win.
Tennessee 38, Florida 28
Of course breaking the 11-year losing streak and establishing itself as the true favorite in the SEC East was obviously big, but was this really the breakthrough moment for Tennessee that everyone will make it out to be?
Sort of, but this is a different team this year with a way of coming through when past teams didn’t.
Would last year’s team have beaten Appalachian State when nothing was going right? Would it have found ways to come back and take over with takeaway after takeaway against Virginia Tech? Would it have come back against this defense in this game in this rivalry against Florida when getting down 21-3?
The Vols didn’t connect in the first half with mistake after mistake keeping them from finding any sort of a groove, but then it became the Joshua Dobbs game, finishing with 319 yards and four scores, cranking up the passing attack that was so shaky over the first 30 minutes. The 80 rushing yards with a score didn’t hurt, either.
As it turns out, Tennessee might just be the ultimate momentum team. That was Florida State for a while when it came to second halves, but once the Vols get out of their own way, then they let the talent and experience come through. A less experienced Tennessee team doesn’t pull this game out.
But as big as this was …
What Does This All REALLY Mean?
Beating Florida doesn’t mean all that much if Tennessee loses to Georgia. There’s still a ton of work to do with Texas A&M and Alabama coming up soon after, but now this win is over and it’s just thrown on the pile – even if it is against an arch-rival. Beat the Dawgs, and the SEC East race is effectively over.
The Gators have to quickly get their mojo back after getting it painfully ripped away in the second half. This is supposed to be a team that takes a 21-3 lead and finishes it up with the defense taking over. With Vanderbilt up next, and then just one true road game in the next six games, there’s plenty of time to get it all back. Austin Appleby was fine, the running game tough, but the momentum shift couldn’t be stopped against the Vols – consider that an aberration.