Vols vs. Gators: It feels like old times

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- This is the way Florida versus Tennessee used to feel.

It’s the way this game is supposed to feel.

Nobody is saying the winner of Saturday’s game in Neyland Stadium will emerge as the favorite to win the Eastern Division, but the winner will at least be in the conversation.

Tennessee is oozing with confidence. Some might say too much confidence when you consider the Vols have never beaten a nationally ranked team under Derek Dooley.

But these Vols believe it’s their time to break through after suffering through losing seasons in three of the last four years.

The Gators are equally confident after smothering Texas A&M in the second half last week in a 20-17 road win over the Aggies. This is a much more physical Florida team than the last two seasons, and that’s exactly the way second-year coach Will Muschamp wants it.

In a lot of ways, these two teams have swapped roles from years gone by.

The Vols like to throw it around the park and have a couple of dynamic playmakers at receiver in Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson.

The Gators want to establish the running game, possess the football and take the ball away on defense, although the latter has been a struggle recently.

Dooley is 0-10 against nationally ranked schools at Tennessee, and Muschamp is 0-5 against ranked foes at Florida. So something has to give Saturday.

This is probably Tennessee’s most anticipated game at Neyland Stadium since the 2006 opener when No. 12-ranked California came to Knoxville.

There hasn’t been a lot to cheer about on Rocky Top the last four years.

The Gators would like to keep it that way.