There was no repeat of last year's offensive histrionics as defense dominated in seventh-ranked Florida's 17-10 victory over No. 14 Tennessee yesterday in Gainesville, Fla.
A year ago, these teams combined for more than 1,000 yards in a 43-30 Florida victory. But yesterday, with the score 3-3 at halftime on the Gators' 42-yard second-quarter field goal from Jeff Dawson and Tennessee's 33-yarder from Carlos Reveiz seven seconds before halftime, it was apparent there would be no repeat.
"I saw two of the hardest-fighting teams I've seen on a football field in a long, long time," Tennessee Coach Johnny Majors said. "Both played awfully hard. I don't know how you could ask more out of defensive teams."
Florida Coach Galen Hall said: "Tennessee's offense is explosive, but we were able to take a little of the firepower out today, and that may have been the key to the game."
"You don't stop Tony Robinson, but we did contain him today," he said of the Volunteers' quarterback, who completed 26 of 36 passes for 300 yards. But about one-third of that came after Florida had taken a 17-3 lead on third-quarter touchdown runs by Neal Anderson.
Anderson ran for 160 yards on 29 carries before a Florida Field record crowd of 74,432. And his touchdowns gave him the school career record with 26.
"They didn't confuse us, they just ran to the ball and hit well," he said of Tennessee. "I know they hit me pretty well."
The Florida field goal that opened the scoring was set up by Ray Criswell's 63-yard punt and an eight-yard clipping penalty that left the Volunteers at their eight. Anderson's scoring runs of nine yards and one yard came in the third quarter on drives of 49 and 38 yards, after punts of 32 and 31 yards by Tennessee's Bob Garmon.
"Field position and the kicking game which controls it were the biggest factors," Majors said.
Florida led, 17-3, before Tennessee scored with 13:52 left. The score, on a 20-yard pass from Robinson to Tim McGee, came two plays after Robinson passed 65 yards to Joey Clinkscales at the Florida 19.
The Gators, 4-0-1, 3-0 in the SEC, are ineligible for the conference title because they are on NCAA probation. Tennessee fell to 2-1-1, 1-1.