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Vols set to host #6 Gators in rare December battle

Tennessee is back on Rocky Top this Saturday for its first home game in six weeks
Florida running back Dameon Pierce (27) looks for room to get around Tennessee defensive back...
Florida running back Dameon Pierce (27) looks for room to get around Tennessee defensive back Bryce Thompson (20) during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)(John Raoux | AP)
Published: Dec. 4, 2020 at 5:40 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Tennessee is back on Rocky Top this Saturday for its first home game in six weeks as the Vols welcome SEC East rival No. 6 Florida to Neyland Stadium for a late afternoon showdown that will be broadcast nationally on CBS and WVLT. Be sure to get your day started with the Big orange Kickoff show at 11am, also on WVLT.

The Big Orange have not played a home game since their Oct. 24 contest against Alabama, which will be a span of 42 days when Saturday’s game kicks off. UT did not play a home game during the entire month of November due to postponements and schedule reshuffling, marking the first time that has happened since 1891.Gates open to the public two hours prior to kickoff at 1:30 p.m. Please note that parking passes issued for this season did not include opponents on them, therefore, those with parking passes should use the pass labeled “Game 4” for Saturday’s contest.

BROADCAST INFO Saturday’s game will be televised nationally by CBS with Carter Blackburn (PxP), Aaron Murray (analyst) and Jenny Dell (sideline) on the call. Kickoff is slated for 3:40 p.m. ET. Fans can also listen to Tennessee’s official radio broadcast on the Vol Network (WIVK-FM 107.7/WNML-FM 99.1) and satellite radio (Sirius Ch. 106, XM Ch. 191, Internet Ch. 962). A live audio stream of the broadcast will also be available on UTSports.com and the Official Gameday App.Bob Kesling (PxP), Tim Priest (analyst) and Brent Hubbs (analyst) will call the action, with Kasey Funderburg handling sideline duties. The “Kickoff Call-In Show” begins at 2 p.m.

NEED TO KNOW Gameday Health & Safety Measures Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, numerous procedures and protocols have been put in place for Tennessee football home games at Neyland Stadium. Relying on the expertise of public health authorities, the state of Tennessee, appropriate university and government agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we are implementing a number of new initiatives on Tennessee football gamedays this fall. The well-being of our student-athletes, fans and staff are our top priorities and guide our decisions.Stadium capacity will be limited to no more than 25% and capacity will also be limited in all merchandise shops. Merchandise stores and stands will only be accepting credit cards for payment. Cash will not be accepted. Face coverings (over the nose and mouth) are required for all guests as they enter, exit and move around Neyland Stadium, as well as any time guests are unable to maintain the recommended physical distance from others who are not in their same household.Physical distancing measures have been put in place, including physically distanced line queues, marked barriers and social distancing reminders. A significant number of hand washing opportunities, including hand sanitizers and portable hand-washing stations have been added inside Neyland Stadium. Additional cleaning and sanitization measures have been implemented. This includes high touch-point areas being cleaned more frequently and providing additional hand-sanitizing locations.For a complete overview of this season’s health and safety measures, please visit the Tennessee Football Gameday Information page on UTSports.com.

Offensive Output Tennessee racked up a season-best 464 yards of total offense in a tough 30-17 loss at No. 21 Auburn in its last game. It represented the Vols’ highest offensive output against the Tigers since putting up 502 yards in the 1997 SEC Championship Game and was also UT’s most against a ranked team since posting 521 yards against No. 24 Nebraska in the 2016 Music City Bowl. The Vols outgained Auburn by 79 yards, were 9-of-15 on third down and tallied 222 rushing yards, led by a season-high 173 yards on 22 carries from Eric Gray. Gray averaged 7.9 yards per carry and finished with 222 all-purpose yards. UT recorded 28 first downs, representing the most in a game in the Jeremy Pruitt era (previous high: 26 vs. Missouri in 2019 & 2020).

Gray Shouldering the Load Sophomore running back Eric Gray has been the engine that makes Tennessee’s offense go this season. The Memphis native has gone over 100 yards rushing four times this year (ranks second in the SEC), including back-to-back games for the first time in his career. Gray ranks fifth in the SEC in total rushing yardage (651), fourth in yards per game (93.0) and 10th in rushing touchdowns (four).During the month of November, Gray averaged 148.0 yards per game on the ground, which led the SEC and ranked sixth in the FBS. In his last nine games dating back to last year’s Vanderbilt game, Gray is averaging 109.2 yards per game on the ground. Gray is the first Vol with running consecutive 100-yard rushing games since John Kelly in 2017 (141 vs. Florida, 101 vs. UMass), and he’s the first UT players to do it in back-to-back conference games since Joshua Dobbs in 2016 (147 vs. Kentucky, 190 vs. Missouri).

December FootballRegular season contests in the month of December are a rare occurrence for Tennessee football. Saturday will be Tennessee’s 34th regular season game played during the month of December and first since Dec. 1, 2001, a game that was rescheduled following the events of 9/11. The Vols defeated No. 2 Florida, 34-32, in Gainesville that day. UT has been very successful in December regular season games all-time, boasting a 29-3-1 record in such contests. The only losses: Dec. 5, 1953 at Houston (L, 33-19), Dec. 9, 1933 at LSU (L, 7-0) and Dec. 3, 1905 vs. Grant in Chattanooga (L, 5-0). This will be the 14th December game played in Knoxville, 13th in Neyland Stadium and first since Dec. 2, 1989 vs. Vanderbilt (won 17-10). The Vols are 13-0 in those contests. Including postseason games, Tennessee owns a 43-14-1 (.750) record during the month of December. The last time the Vols played any game during December was a 38-24 win over No. 24 Nebraska in the 2016 Music City Bowl.

SERIES HISTORY Gators lead series, 29-20Tennessee dominated the series early on, winning the first 10 games between the two programs. However, Florida has had the upper hand recently, winning three straight and 14 of the past 15 meetings. The Vols’ lone victory in that span came in 2016, when the Big Orange erased a 21-0 first half deficit to defeat the Gators, 38-28, in Knoxville.

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