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No. 23 Vols try to end skid against No. 18 Gators

Associated Press Modified: September 12, 2012 at 12:51 pm •  Published: September 12, 2012
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee hasn't beaten Florida in so long that even the Volunteers who grew up near campus can't quite recall what they were doing the last time it happened.

Their hazy memories are understandable. Most of them were in elementary school or middle school at the time.

"Knowing me, I was probably playing it on a video game — playing as Tennessee and beating Florida," Tennessee nose guard and Knoxville Catholic High School graduate Daniel Hood said. "I can't say I remember too much about it. I just know it's been too long since we have beaten them."

Florida has beaten Tennessee each of the last seven years, which represents the Gators' longest winning streak in this rivalry's 41-game history. After winning 13 of its first 15 games with Florida, the Vols have gone 6-20 against the Gators since.

"We just want to keep the tradition going and keep winning," Florida cornerback Marcus Roberson said.

No. 23 Tennessee's hopes of starting a new streak Saturday against the 18th-ranked Gators rest on its ability to reverse the recent trends in this series.

The Vols haven't had a single 100-yard rusher, 100-yard receiver or 300-yard passer against Florida throughout this streak. Florida hasn't committed more turnovers than Tennessee in each of these seven games. Tennessee hasn't exceeded 23 points against Florida since its last victory in this series, a 30-28 shootout in 2004.

Florida continually has seized the moment while Tennessee has broken down.

"It's a rivalry, so you never really want to lose," Florida linebacker Jon Bostic said. "Going into the season, it's one of the games on the schedule that's always circled. It's pretty much a statement game."

The Gators' run defense has made the biggest statement lately. Florida has outrushed Tennessee in each of these seven games and held the Vols to negative yards rushing twice. The Vols had minus-9 yards on 21 carries in a 33-23 loss to Florida last season. Over its last seven games with the Gators, Tennessee has averaged 1.8 yards per rush.

Tennessee's last victory over Florida marks the last time the Vols outrushed the Gators. The Gators clearly have a rushing edge during this streak. They also might have a mental edge.

Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said he never discusses streaks with his players. He didn't talk about Tennessee's 26 consecutive victories against Kentucky before the Vols' 10-7 loss to the Wildcats last year. Nor did he mention Tennessee's six straight losses at the Georgia Dome before the Vols' season-opening triumph over North Carolina State in Atlanta.

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