Highlights of the Florida Gators' win streak over Tennessee

Florida’s 10-game winning streak over Tennessee is on the line this weekend, but here are some of the Gators' best moments during the streak.

Kiffin against Meyer

Lane Kiffin didn’t hold back when he got the job at Tennessee heading into the 2009 season. Florida was bringing back a large amount from its roster that won a national title in the previous system. Kiffin, however, claimed that he was looking forward to “singing Rocky Top all night long” after winning in The Swamp.

Kiffin sent more shockwaves through the Gators’ fan base and football program when he stole long-time Florida receiver commitment Nu’Keese Richardson. Kiffin also claimed that Meyer broke NCAA rules by calling Richardson while he was on his official visit to Knoxville. The only problem? It wasn’t against NCAA rules.

Florida would end up beating Tennessee 23-13 in The Swamp that September, and Kiffin said after the game that his plan worked perfectly to take the pressure off the players. Four months later, he left Knoxville.

James destroys the Volunteers

There have been big names on the Florida roster that have torched the Volunteers during the streak. Tim Tebow put up big numbers, Percy Harvin created problems through the air and on the ground, and the Florida defense has allowed an average of 15.2 points per game over the 10-game winning streak.  

None of them haunt the dreams of Tennessee fans like Brandon James.

As a freshman taking over full-time kick and punt return duties, James made an impact during the game in Knoxville in the 2006 season. He had four punt returns for 65 yards and had one long punt return for a touchdown called back. In 2007, the Florida defense forced a three-and-out to open the game and Tennessee punted. James returned it for a touchdown, sparking a 59-20 win. In 2008, it was a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown and he opened the game with a 52-yard kickoff return. In 2009, James had three kickoff returns for 97 yards, including a long of 50 yards. 

Over his four years against Tennessee, James played as big of a role as any other player on the team in Florida’s success over the Volunteers.

Leak leads a comeback

The 2006 Florida team showed some of its well-known toughness with the win in Knoxville. The Volunteers jumped out to a 17-7 lead midway through the third quarter, leading Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge to provide a mock Gator chomp on the sideline that was caught by CBS cameras. Florida quarterback Chris Leak hit Dallas Baker for two touchdowns over the final 17 minutes of play and the Gators escaped with a 21-20 win over Tennessee.

This game was a sign of what was to come from Florida. They leaned on their defense late in the game and trusted veteran players when the Gators needed it the most. For a team with multiple gutty wins in 2006, the one in Knoxville might be the most impressive.

Volunteer heartbreak

The 2012 and 2014 games are fairly similar in the rivalry. Both were seen as the year the Volunteers would end Florida’s winning streak and finally get into the win column. College Gameday was in attendance for the 2012 game, but it was Jeff Driskel that led the Gators to a comeback victory over Tennessee. The Volunteers led 14-10 at halftime, but the Gators outscored them 27-6 over the second half to run away with the win behind 219 passing yards and two touchdowns from Jeff Driskel.

In 2014, it wasn’t pretty on either side. Tennessee was in control and took a 9-0 lead into the fourth quarter. Quarterback Treon Harris came off the bench and led the Florida offense to 10 straight points, escaping Knoxville with a 10th straight win over the Volunteers.

Tebow proves he can throw

When Chris Leak graduated after the 2006 season, Tim Tebow took over the reigns of the Florida offense. As a freshman, Tebow mostly provided a running threat while Florida won the national championship. Questions persisted nationally -- could Tebow throw enough for Florida to be successful?

It looked like it during the first two games of his sophomore season, but there were still questions about whether or not that would hold up against a Southeastern Conference defense. Tebow put those questions to rest in 2007 against the Volunteers while going 14-19 through the air for 299 yards and two touchdowns, sparking his Heisman Trophy campaign.


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