Gators dominate rivalry on the ground

The Gators lead the all-time series 23-19 over Tennessee, but in the last eight years, it hasn't been close. Florida heads into this week of preparation for the Volunteers riding an eight-game winning streak in the series. The goal for head coach Will Muschamp is to push the winning streak out of his players' minds and focus on getting back in the win column.

The numbers are difficult to ignore.

Florida has averaged a margin of victory of 15.5 points during the eight-game winning streak. The 21-20 win for the Gators in Knoxville during the 2006 season is the only game that has ended with Tennessee being within one score of tying the game or taking the lead.

In two matchups under Will Muschamp, the Gators have won by a combined score of 70-43.

The story of the rivalry, especially in the last eight games, has been on the ground. Over its eight-game winning streak, Florida has outrushed Tennessee by an average of 177.4-51, including the Volunteers rushing for negative yardage in 2006 and 2012.

Tennessee rushed for 117 yards during the 2009 game in Gainesville during Lane Kiffin's season as head coach, but that was the only time the Volunteers have crossed the 100-yard rushing mark.

The Florida ground game has rushed for less than 100 yards just once against the Volunteers over the last eight games -- that coming in a 68-yard rushing performance during the 2005 game. Florida hasn't rushed for under 120 yards against the Volunteers since that game.

Florida has gone over 200 rushing yards twice against Tennessee and over 300 yards once in the last eight game. The 336-yard rushing performance came against the Volunteers last season in Knoxville, led by 115 yards on the ground from Mike Gillislee, 91 yards from Trey Burton and 81 yards from Jeff Driskel. The Gators dominated the line of scrimmage and secured a 37-20 win with College Gameday present in Knoxville.

This season will have a different feel to it. The teams are used to meeting during the third weekend of the season, usually happening with undefeated records on both sidelines. Florida and Tennessee both head into Saturday with a loss already on their schedule for the first time since 2001, when the two teams played on December 1 after 9/11 forced the game to be rescheduled.

The challenge for the Florida coaching staff becomes keeping the Florida players from buying into the numbers. Even before the Gators started preparation for the game last Thursday, Muschamp was already talking to the players about ignoring the streak. The loss at Miami went a long way in helping the Gators prepare for Tennessee like another tough conference game.

"Those eight victories have nothing to do with what's going to happen Saturday," Muschamp said on Wednesday. "Butch has done a really good job at Tennessee. It's starting our SEC season and a team, a university that we have a lot of respect for."

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