Florida beats No. 11 Tennessee 29-16

GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 16: Florida Gators running back Montrell Johnson Jr. (2) runs with the ball for a touchdown during the game between the Tennessee Volunteers and the Florida Gators on September 16, 2023 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field in Gainesville, Fl.  (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Florida scored 26 straight in the first half to beat No. 11 Tennessee 29-16. (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Florida used a 20-point second quarter to upset No. 11 Tennessee 29-16 on Saturday night.

The Gators outscored the Vols 20-0 in the 15 minutes before halftime to take a 26-7 lead into the break. After scoring first, Tennessee ran a total of 10 plays on its next three drives as Florida scored 26 straight.

Florida’s game plan from the start was clear. It wanted to hold onto the ball as much as possible. Its opening drive lasted half the first quarter before it resulted in a missed field goal and its second TD drive of the night also lasted half of the second quarter.

Tennessee, meanwhile, was all out of sorts. The Vols committed numerous pre-snap penalties and the defense even fell for a hard count as Florida purposely tried to draw UT offsides on fourth down while leading by 13 in the fourth quarter.

Florida QB Graham Mertz had one of the most efficient games of his career since he burst on the scene as a freshman at Wisconsin. Mertz was 19-of-24 passing for 166 yards and a TD while dealing with cuts on his hands in the second half while RB Trevor Etienne dominated the Volunteers on the ground. Etienne rushed 22 times for 169 yards.

The Gators’ win means Tennessee’s losing streak in Gainesville will now extend for at least 22 seasons. The Vols last won at Florida in 2003. It’s also the first time Florida has beaten a ranked team at home in four seasons since taking down Auburn in 2019.

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