Tennessee Football: Are the Florida Gators or Georgia Bulldogs a Bigger Threat to the Vols in the SEC East for 2016?


For Tennessee football, winning the SEC East is a clear goal for 2016. Are the Florida Gators or the Georgia Bulldogs a bigger threat to the Volunteers?

Given the fact that Tennessee has not won the SEC East since 2007, and they backed in that year, it may be a bit premature to consider them the division favorite.

But they were a 4th and 14 play away from winning it in 2015 and easily had the strongest finish to the season among anybody else on that side of the conference.

Going into 2016, Tennessee appears to be the unanimous favorite to win the East with Florida considered a potential wildcard and Georgia still threatening. So who is the bigger threat to the Vols?

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Of course there are Will Muschamp’s comments on the South Carolina Gamecocks being competitive in the East, but we’ll ignore him for now.

Georgia is considered to have a drop-off due to a coaching change with Kirby Smart coming on board, and the debate about who should be their starting quarterback rages on.

Still, the Dawgs have a pretty good base of talent for Smart to work with. Meanwhile, Tennessee barely beat Georgia last year, needing a 21-point comeback to do so, and they have to travel to Athens this year, where they haven’t won since 2006.

So that game is no pushover.

In Gainesville, Jim McElwain is entering his second year, and after going for limited quantity but maximum quality in his 2015 recruiting class, he went for the full roster in 2016 but may have sacrificed some talent to do it.

Obviously, last year’s Florida team was completely different once Will Grier was gone, and now he’s gone for good, so it might be a bit of an unexpected rebuilding year once again for McElwain.

Still, he also has plenty of talent, and his players have had a year to figure out his system. There’s also the psychological edge Florida continues to have over the Vols, even if the game is in Neyland Stadium.

At this point, though, Georgia is probably a bigger threat to the Vols winning the SEC East than the Gators.

Tennessee’s Florida curse seems closer to ending than ever before, and the game is at Neyland Stadiu, while the Dawgs are a road game.

On top of whom they are more likely to beat, the Dawgs also have an easier SEC West schedule, visiting a rebuilding Ole Miss Rebels team and hosting an Auburn Tigers team in turmoil.

Florida, meanwhile, has a much better chance to lose two games if they do somehow beat the Vols again given the fact that they play the LSU Tigers and visit the Arkansas Razorbacks from the West, two teams who are expected to be much better than last year.

As a result, as bad as all Vols fans want to beat Florida, they would have a better chance to win the East if they lose to Florida and beat Georgia.

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But there’s one way to avoid all this: win both games. What are your thoughts Vol Nation? Please leave your comments below.