The University of Tennessee has come down with a case of football fever. Campus is buzzing while the anticipation builds for the Vols' matchup this weekend against the Florida Gators.
Currently ranked among the top 25 teams in the Associated Press poll for the first time since 2008, the No. 23 Vols look to solidify their position in the rankings by defeating the No. 18 Florida Gators.
The Tennessee vs. Florida matchup is one of the most anticipated rivalries in all of SEC football. The teams have squared off in a hard fought battle on the third Saturday of every college football season since 1992.
This year, the Vols are playing with a chip on their shoulder. The Gators currently hold a seven-year winning streak over the Vols, but they are confident they have the tools to break the streak this year.
To do this, the Vols hope to continue their dynamic passing attack. After playing two games, starting quarterback Tyler Bray has thrown for 643 yards and 6 touchdowns, ranking the Vols ninth in the NCAA in passing yards and fifteenth in points scored. So far this season Bray has looked strong with help from junior wide receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson.
"I'm just ready to be out there and compete with the best conference there is," Patterson said. "[We just have to] go out there and execute."
Ranked 43rd in rushing, the Volunteers have heavily relied on the pass. When asked about the running game, head coach Derek Dooley said that it's something that must be addressed.
"That's part of the offense. I think it is important that these backs hit the holes fast because if you dance around on these guys, it is negative two."
On the defensive side, defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri makes his SEC debut as a part of the Tennessee coaching staff. Sunseri said the defense just needs to focus on playing the game.
"Everybody just has to come out and relax a little bit more. Everybody is going to come out and give up some things early, identifying stuff and just relaxing and playing," Sunseri said. "Every time you play against somebody, there is always something new that they are going to do that (will make) you have to make an adjustment. Once you settle down, you get better as you go."
Along with the hype of playing in one of the most fierce rivalries in the game, the excitement is further multiplied by the arrival of ESPN's "College GameDay". Volunteer fans will gather at Circle Park to wave their signs and watch ESPN's Lee Corso wear mascot Smokey's head and call for the Vols' victory.
The game will air on ESPN and kickoff is set for 6:00 p.m. EST.