Florida Gators Welcome Tennessee Vols in Pivotal SEC East Division Showdown in the Swamp

By  //  September 25, 2021

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kickoff set for 7 p.m. on ESPN

GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA (Florida Gators) – Following a season of COVID-19 protocols and reduced-capacity crowds, some Florida players had never seen Ben Hill Griffin Stadium packed.

And then No. 1-ranked Alabama came to town in the biggest home game in years.

“We love to play in that environment,” quarterback Emory Jones said this week.

Jones, a fourth-year junior, has been around long enough to experience some memorable home wins, including a victory over LSU in 2018 and Auburn in 2019. The Gators nearly came all the way back against Alabama a week ago but lost, 31-29. Despite the outcome, it’s a game the Gators or Alabama won’t forget anytime soon.

That’s because the fifth-largest crowd in school history (90,887) turned “The Swamp” into a huge home-field advantage for the Gators after they fell behind 21-3 in the first quarter. Over the final three quarters, Florida dominated and the crowd turned up the volume.

The 11th-ranked Gators are hoping for a similar environment on Saturday night when they host SEC East-rival Tennessee.

“All the Gator fans need to go maybe get some warm tea and lemon, make sure their throats are refreshed,” UF head coach Dan Mullen said. “We need an even more raucous environment to continue to have the home-field advantage. I think you saw the effect that had on the game last week.”

Mullen is 3-0 against Tennessee since taking over the program in 2018, including a 34-3 home win two years ago. In Tennessee’s two previous trips to Gainesville, the Gators rallied late for a 28-27 win in 2015 and won on a Hail Mary pass from Feleipe Franks to Tyree Cleveland in 2017.

The home fans went berserk both times.

Mullen urged Gators fans to come back to “The Swamp” and help it live up to its name.

“There’s passionate Gator fans out there and I think they need to understand that they are critical in the success of this team,” he said. “They have an important role. Obviously, last Saturday was a crazy environment. We need to keep that going. It does nothing but help.”