Talking to the media after Tuesday’s practice, multiple Florida players said they haven’t talked about the streak and don't think it has any impact on what will happen Saturday. Florida tight end Deandre Goolsby said he wasn’t even sure how many straight games the Gators had won over Tennessee.
That doesn’t change their views on how important the game is. After winning the Southeastern Conference opener at Kentucky last weekend, Florida returns home for a game that the players understand the magnitude of, even if they claim not to know much about the streak.
“They expect us to win, we expect to win,” Florida receiver Valdez Showers said. “It's just something that should happen here at the University of Florida. We definitely want to keep the fans happy, put points on the board, have an exciting game and we definitely want to win each and every game."
The game does mean more for some than others. Many players on the Florida roster were recruited by both programs, but receiver Brandon Powell was committed to the Volunteers. He would later flip his commitment to Miami before enrolling at Florida, but the Tennessee program meant a lot to him in the recruiting process.
Powell spoke highly of Tennessee coach Butch Jones and the respect he gained for their coaching staff during the process, but his past circumstances also add a little extra to Saturday.
“This game right here is one of the games I’ve been looking forward to,” Powell said. “I didn’t play last year because I was hurt, but this is one of the games I’ve been looking forward to.”
Multiple players noted that they’ve felt the excitement building around this game. Defensive lineman Jordan Sherit said the Florida-Tennessee rivalry was always a game he watched as a kid growing up, but being a part of the Florida program has given him a better understanding of it.
“That's one game that would always be big,” Sherit said. “CBS, 3:30. Great buzz. You don't really understand until you get here and get on campus and people who've been around here for awhile. (Seeing) their hatred and just how emphatic they are about this rivalry just creates a nature in itself.
“You'll meet someone just walking around Gainesville and they'll say, 'Just beat Tennessee for me.' So it's fun. We're looking forward to the contest.”
While the Florida players ignore talk about the streak, they also know that’s likely not the case in Knoxville. The Volunteers can use it as motivation throughout the week because they understand the hope of their fan base that this Saturday could be the game that ends the 10-game losing streak to Florida.
The Florida players have something else in mind.
“They haven’t beaten us in 10 years and we’re looking forward to keeping that going,” Florida cornerback Quincy Wilson said. “We’re ready to prepare this week for them and get ready to do what it takes to win."