Sep 10, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Tennessee Volunteers wide receiver Cedric Tillman (4) reacts after scoring the game winning touchdown against the Pittsburgh Panthers in overtime at Acrisure Stadium.  Tennessee won 34-27 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Vols WR Cedric Tillman (ankle) out against Florida

Tennessee wide receiver Cedric Tillman will miss the 11th-ranked Volunteers’ home game Saturday against No. 20 Florida due to an ankle injury, ESPN reported.

He was injured in the second quarter of last weekend’s 63-6 victory against Akron.

The 6-foot-3 senior has 17 receptions for 246 yards and one touchdown this season.

Tillman has 89 catches for 1,451 yards and 15 touchdowns in 41 career games at Tennessee.

–Field Level Media

Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) is brought down in the second half against the Bulls at Steve Spurrier Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Saturday, September 17, 2022. Florida won 31-28 [Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun]

Ncaa Football Florida Gators Vs Usf Bulls

No. 20 Florida treks to No. 11 Tennessee in early SEC test

No. 20 Florida aims to continue its recent dominance of No. 11 Tennessee on Saturday afternoon when the Southeastern Conference rivals meet in Knoxville, Tenn.

The Gators (2-1, 0-1) have won five in a row and 16 of their last 17 encounters against the Volunteers (3-0, 0-0), including a decisive 38-14 decision last season.

Florida enters Saturday’s contest as an early 10.5-point underdog (BetMGM).

The Gators tackle their first road game of the season after squeezing out a 31-28 victory over South Florida last Saturday.

Anthony Richardson authored his second straight uneven performance after completing 10 of 18 passes for 112 yards and two interceptions against the Bulls. He was also picked off twice in Florida’s 26-16 loss to SEC-rival Kentucky on Sept. 10.

Richardson resides last among the 14 SEC starting quarterbacks in passing yards (423), completion percentage (53.2) and touchdown passes (zero).

“It’s an area of our team where we need to improve. There’s no question about that,” Gators coach Billy Napier said Monday of his club’s play at quarterback. “You can tell that. The average fan can tell that. My wife can. She’s informed me of that. So, we need to get better.”

Richardson said he listened to another woman — his mother — as a means to mentally move past his recent miscues.

“She started bringing up all these great quarterbacks and how many interceptions they’ve thrown and stuff,” Richardson said. “So, she kind of got on me about that.”

Richardson sat out Florida’s 38-14 victory over Tennessee last season with a strained right hamstring.

The Volunteers likely have no qualms about their quarterback Hendon Hooker, who completed 14 of 18 passes for 298 yards and two touchdowns in a 63-6 romp over visiting Akron last Saturday.

Hooker, who received an early exit versus the Zips due to the lopsided score, also threw for two touchdowns in last season’s setback to the Gators.

Hooker and Tennessee coach Josh Heupel each dismissed the notion that their team finds itself at a disadvantage this Saturday given the one-sided nature of the rivalry of late.

“We are going to approach it the same way we approach every other game,” Hooker said Monday. “All the outside noise doesn’t really matter to us. We are going to come in, we are going to gameplan how we do in a normal week, and we’re going to come in and work hard.”

“Each week is different, each day is different, each season is,” Heupel said. “For us, we’re however many months into our program, right here right now, and our kids are extremely confident, as they should be. They prepare the right way, they work hard, we have continued to grow. They know that the preparation is going to be the most important thing.”

Jalin Hyatt reeled in both scoring strikes and rolled up a career-high 166 receiving yards for the Volunteers, who have started the season 3-0 for the first time since winning their first five games in 2016.

–Field Level Media

Florida Gators running back Trevor Etienne (7) rushes with the ball for a touchdown during the second half against the South Florida Bulls at Steve Spurrier Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Saturday, September 17, 2022. [Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun]

Ncaa Football Florida Gators Vs South Florida Bulls

Trevor Etienne’s late TD vaults No. 18 Florida over USF

Trevor Etienne scored on a 3-yard run with just over five minutes left to cap a 28-yard drive following Tre’Vez Johnson’s interception and No. 18 Florida held on for a 31-28 win over visiting South Florida on Saturday night in Gainesville, Fla.

The Bulls (1-2) reached Florida’s 19-yard line in the final minute, but an errant snap on second down backed them up to the 33, and then a mishandled snap foiled Spencer Shrader’s 49-yard field-goal try that could have sent the game to overtime.

The Gators (2-1) saw an 11-point halftime lead wiped out when the Bulls’ Gerry Bohanon and Michel Dukes each scored a touchdown to put USF up 28-24 before Etienne’s score.

With sophomore Brian Battie rushing for a career-high 150 yards and Bohanon rushing for 102, the Bulls outgained the Gators 402-329 in total yardage and seemed to have their first win over a ranked foe since 2016 within reach.

But Bohanon’s second interception created a short field that the Gators cashed in on.

Florida’s Anthony Richardson threw for 112 yards and two picks.

Montrel Johnson Jr. led the Gators in rushing with 103 yards, 62 coming on a scoring dash in the second quarter.

Florida built its 24-13 halftime cushion on a pair of touchdowns in a 1-minute, 35-second span late in the second quarter. Nay’Quan Wright capped an 81-yard, penalty-aided drive with a 7-yard touchdown run with 4:45 left in the half and Jalen Kimber followed with a 39-yard interception return on USF’s ensuing possession for a 24-10 Florida lead.

USF closed out the half with Shrader’s 49-yard field goal.

The Bulls owned a statistical edge at the break thanks to running 40 plays to the Gators’ 23. That helped the visitors to a 272-204 advantage in total offense with a 216-129 cushion in rushing.

Battie finished the first half with 99 rushing yards while Bohanon had 69.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2022; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) throws the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

No. 18 Florida tries for bounce-back win over USF

No. 18 Florida will seek redemption while unranked South Florida will try for its first victory over a Power 5 opponent in four years when the two Sunshine State neighbors clash Saturday night in Gainesville, Fla.

The Gators (1-1) opened with a comeback win over then-No. 7 Utah but fell flat against No. 20 Kentucky last week, going scoreless in the second half and managing only 279 yards in total offense in a 26-16 loss.

Anthony Richardson, the hero of the win over the Utes when he rushed for 106 yards and three touchdowns and passed for 168 yards, struggled against the Wildcats in what was the sophomore’s fourth career start. He completed 14 of 35 passes for 143 yards and rushed for only 4 yards. He also threw two interceptions, leading to 13 points for Kentucky.

“It’s part of being a young player,” first-year Florida coach Billy Napier said. “It’s part of being a guy who’s not very experienced. That’s reality here. Anthony’s a young player. He’s getting his first opportunity to be the guy. I just think this is part of the story. This is part of his growth.

“And he’ll use that. This guy’s a competitor. He’s motivated, and I think he’s going to take full advantage of the experience he’s had, both good and bad so far.”

Third-year coach USF Jeff Scott picked up his fourth win as coach of the Bulls (1-1 this season) with last week’s 42-20 thumping of Howard, their third in that span over an FCS foe (The Citadel, Florida A&M).

The Bulls’ only win over an FBS opponent was last year against Temple. USF hasn’t beaten a Power 5 team since a 25-19 win over Illinois on Sept. 15, 2018.

The Bulls’ running game was the big factor against Howard. USF rushed for 205 yards and six touchdowns. Sophomore Brian Battle posted the third 100-yard rushing game of his career with 105 yards on seven carries as the Bulls broke the game open with four second-half touchdowns after leading 14-7 at the break.

Baylor transfer Gerry Bohanon added 219 yards in completing 17 of 28 passes — seven to Xavier Weaver for 57 yards.

Florida will be the second Top 25 opponent for the Bulls in the first three weeks of the season. The Bulls lost their opener 50-21 to then-No. 25 BYU.

“I would say that after we finished the BYU game, we were not ready to beat a Top 25 team,” Frost said. “That was two weeks ago. That’s the exciting part about football. Each week is a new week and you get new opportunities to grow. We’ll find out after Week 3 if we played well enough. to do that.”

The game will be the Gators’ third in a row at home to start the season before the team opens Southeastern Conference play at Tennessee on Sept. 24.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2022; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Florida Gators running back Trevor Etienne (7) runs with the ball as Kentucky Wildcats defensive tackle Octavious Oxendine (8) tackles  during the first half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

No. 20 Kentucky shuts down Anthony Richardson, No. 12 Florida

No. 20 Kentucky’s defense dominated No. 12 Florida Saturday night, holding the Gators scoreless in the second half for a 26-16 victory in a Southeastern Conference opener in Gainesville, Fla.

The Wildcats (2-0, 1-0 SEC) held the Gators (1-1, 0-1) to just 279 yards in total offense and came up with two interceptions and two late fourth-down stops to preserve the win, Kentucky’s third in the last five meetings with the Gators.

It gave the Wildcats consecutive victories in the series for the first time since 1976-77 and presented coach Mark Stoops with his 61st victory with the Wildcats, breaking a tie with Bear Bryant for the school record.

Will Levis was 13 of 24 passing for 202 yards and a touchdown for Kentucky, which was without leading returning rusher Chris Rodriguez Jr. for a second week. Kavosiey Smoke led the Wildcats in rushing with 80 yards.

Anthony Richardson struggled for Florida, going 14 of 35 passing for only 143 yards and rushing for just 4 more. His two interceptions led to 14 points for the Wildcats.

The Wildcats took a 23-16 lead into the fourth quarter thanks to Matt Ruffolo’s tying 24-yard field goal and Keidron Smith’s 65-yard interception return late in the third period. Ruffolo’s 26-yard field goal with 1:24 remaining clinched it.

After a lackluster first quarter that ended with Florida leading 3-0, the two teams combined for a wild second period.

The Gators scored their only touchdown on Trevor Etienne’s 11-yard run after gaining possession on Gervon Dexter Jr.’s interception. Adam Mihalek booted a 50-yard field goal and the Gators added a safety when Kentucky punter Colin Goodfellow was forced to kick the ball out of the back of the end zone after bad snap.

The Wildcats scored on Levis’ 55-yard touchdown strike to Dane Key and got their second on Levis’ sneak from a yard out following Jordan Wright’s one-handed interception and return to Florida’s 6-yard line.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2022; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) during the first quarter at Steve Spurrier-Florida Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Take 5: Week 2 CFB Odds, Trends & Predictions

Week 2 of the college football season features all of the top 25 teams in the nation in action, with three contests pitting ranked teams against each other.

Five interesting trends sportsbooks are reporting ahead of Saturday’s jam-packed slate of games.

5. Roll Tide Roll Over Sark?

Top-ranked Alabama will pay a visit to former Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian’s unranked Texas team in Austin. The Tide opened as 19-point favorites at PointsBet and the line has moved to 20 with Alabama drawing 90 percent of the spread-line bets and 95 percent of the handle.

The story is similar at BetRivers, where it has been the most wagered-on game of the weekend with 11.1 percent of the total college football handle. There has been almost twice as much money wagered on Alabama vs. Texas than any other game on the Week 2 schedule, with 88 percent of the spread handle backing the Tide at -20.

It has also been the most popular game at BetMGM, where Alabama has been backed by 88 percent of the bets and 92 percent of the handle with the line shifting from 17.5 to 20.5 points by Friday.

4. Pitt on Upset Alert

No. 24 Tennessee travels north to play No. 17 Pittsburgh, but it’s the Volunteers who are a 4.0-point favorite at BetMGM, where they have been backed by the second-most spread bets (73 percent) and handle (73 percent) of all teams this weekend.

The spread is 5.0 points at PointsBet but that hasn’t deterred the public there, either, as Tennessee has drawn 61 and 72 percent of the spread bets and handle, respectively. The game is responsible for 5.1 percent of all the action at BetRivers, third-most at the sportsbook.

3. All Over the Aggies

Fresh off a heartbreaking defeat at home to North Carolina, Appalachian State pays a visit to No. 6 Texas A&M. The Mountaineers put up 61 points in their loss to the Tar Heels, including a whopping 40 in the fourth quarter.

The public is seeing a hangover affect for Appalachian State, with Texas A&M backed by 65 percent of the spread bets and 75 percent of the handle as a 16.5-point favorite at BetMGM.

2. Eyeing the Irish

Following an opening loss to Ohio State, Notre Dame likely has to run the table to have a shot at the College Football Playoff.

That quest begins with a visit from Marshall, and it has been the second-most popular game of Week 2 at BetRivers with 5.5 percent of the total action. The Irish’s 21-point spread is the second-most popular play with 2.5 percent of the total tickets, and is third in handle with 2.0 percent of the action.

The line opened at 19 at PointsBet but shifted to 20.5 with Notre Dame drawing one-sided action, with 95 percent of the spread bets and 96 percent of the handle as of Friday evening.

1. Swamp Support

Florida scored an impressive opening victory over Utah and the 12th-ranked Gators are preparing for one of the bigger games of the weekend as they play host to No. 20 Kentucky.

Anthony Richardson thrust himself into the early-season Heisman chatter with a strong effort in the win over the Utes. Florida, favored by 6.0 points, has been the third-most bet on team at BetMGM this week, with the Gators backed by 62 percent of the bets and 68 percent of the handle.

However, the spread handle has been evenly split at PointsBet, while Florida has drawn 62 percent of the total bets with the line moving from 5.5 to 6.0 points.

–Field Level Media

Apr 23, 2022; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Utes junior quarterback Cameron Rising (7) looks to throw the ball in the first quarter of the Utah Spring Football Game at Rice   Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

No. 7 Utah looks to prove itself at Florida

Intriguing questions abound as No. 7 Utah travels to Florida for a prime-time matchup on Saturday night.

Can the Utes’ loaded defense derail the hype train for Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson? Will underdog Florida deliver head coach Billy Napier a win in his Gators debut?

Can defending Pac-12 champion Utah withstand the literal and figurative heat in Florida’s raucous, sold out Swamp?

As for Richardson, the 6-foot-4, 240-pound sophomore is projected to be a top-10 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. He also has one career start. With his elite arm talent and 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash, some have compared Richardson to Cam Newton. But Napier is trying to temper the expectations.

“I know we all want to put a crown on his head,” Napier said. “I think the guy’s completed 33 passes in his career, right? The great quarterbacks at the University of Florida, they completed 33 in one game. We’ve got work to do there.”

Napier, a former Clemson and Alabama assistant who went 40-12 the last four years at Louisiana, has created much buzz in Gainesville after replacing four-year coach Dan Mullen, who went 6-7 last fall.

From his previous stop, Napier brought his top running back, Montrell Johnson (891 total yards, 12 touchdowns), adding to a deep backfield, and his top blocker, O’Cyrus Torrence, to join three returning starters on a formidable offensive line.

Edge rusher Brenton Cox, who had 14.5 tackles for a loss last season, leads a defense that will be guided by another Louisiana import, co-coordinator Patrick Toney. The unit needs a major revamp. Its low point last year was surrendering 52 points in a shootout win over FCS Samford.

A season in transition usually calls for a cupcake opener. The Gators get anything but in the Utes, however, who went 10-4 last year and with 17 starters back are the pick to repeat as the conference champions.

Leading the offense are Pac-12 first-teamers in quarterback Cameron Rising (20 touchdowns, five interceptions) and running back Tavion Thomas (1,108 rushing yards, 21 touchdowns).

Also back is a veteran offensive line and five of Utah’s top six receivers, including tight ends Brant Kuithe and Dalton Kincaid who combined for 1,121 yards and 14 touchdowns.

The defense is formidable with a pair of huge, run-stuffing linemen, a secondary full of NFL prospects and a linebacker, Mohamoud Diabate, who had 89 tackles last year at Florida.

While the atmosphere at the Swamp will bear little resemblance to that in arid Ogden, at least one of the Utes knows what to expect.

“Nothing compares to it,” Diabate said. “It’ll be a great environment, a great opportunity.”

It’s also a chance for Utah to show it can win on the road, which was a sticking point from last year when its losses came at BYU, at San Diego State, at Oregon State and in the Rose Bowl against Ohio State.

“When you have a chance to go down to SEC country, play a storied program like Florida, it’s important for the Pac-12 to make noise on the national scene,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “We have to make the most of it.”

–Field Level Media

Jul 20, 2022; Atlanta, GA, USA; The Florida Gators helmet on the stage during SEC Media Days at the College Football Hall of Fame. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Four-star DL Kelby Collins commits to Florida’s 2023 class

Kelby Collins, a four-star defensive lineman, committed to Florida’s Class of 2023 on Saturday.

Collins is ranked as the No. 6 player at the position and the No. 70 overall player in the nation by the 247Sports composite.

The 6-foot-5, 180-pound Collins plays at Gardendale High School in Gardendale, Ala. He was recruited from schools across the nation and throughout the Southeastern Conference, including in-state Alabama and Auburn.

Collins is the highest-ranked of the 18 players committed to Kentucky’s Class of 2023. With his commitment, the Gators moved to No. 12 in the 247Sports class rankings, fifth in the SEC. Alabama is No. 1, and Georgia (No. 5), LSU (No. 6) and Tennessee (No. 11) also are above Florida in the conference rankings.

–Field Level Media

Jul 20, 2022; Atlanta, GA, USA; Florida Gators head coach Billy Napier talks from the stage during SEC Media Days at the College Football Hall of Fame. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

New coach Billy Napier aiming for a Florida revival

Billy Napier coached Louisiana to a 33-5 record over the past three seasons to earn his opportunity of Florida’s new coach.

He doesn’t need to be reminded the Gators lost more games (seven) last season than he did over his final three seasons with the Ragin’ Cajuns.

Napier clearly knows there’s work to do after replacing Dan Mullen. But he also doesn’t want to write off chances of excelling right away.

“This 2022 team that we have is a new team, it’s a new year, a new set of challenges and opportunities,” Napier said Wednesday at SEC Media Days in Atlanta. “I think each year each team is its own entity. They got to start over every year.

“This is a first-year staff at a new place with a new roster. We’ve got a lot of players and a lot of staff that are learning our way, right? A lot of new roles. There’s lots of roles to be determined on our team. We’ve got a core group of veteran players. We have a big portion of our team we think has ability, but it’s inexperienced and needs to develop.”

Napier can sense the hurt from a long season lingers.

Florida lost five of its last seven games and gave up 52 points in one of the wins during that span — against FCS opponent Samford.

The Gators lost by 27 points to Georgia, 23 to South Carolina and 12 to non-conference opponent UCF. Florida did lose by just two to Alabama.

“I like this group,” Napier said. “I think they’ve got a chip on their shoulder. They’re excited about the opportunity to earn some respect.”

For the Gators to take a step forward, they will need a big season from quarterback Anthony Richardson.

“I’ve been impressed. I think he’s remained humble,” Napier said. “He’s got a little bit of an edge. I think he wants to prove himself.”

In spot play last season, Richardson completed 59.4 percent of his passes for 529 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions. He’s highly dangerous on the ground as he gained 401 yards on 51 attempts — a gaudy 7.9 average — while scoring three touchdowns.

“He has tremendous ability,” Napier said. “He’s working hard to develop, improve as a person, as a leader. He’s working hard to increase his football IQ. His skill is developing. I think he’s prime to have a phenomenal year.”

–Field Level Media

Florida Gators head coach Billy Napier thanks his team for a good scrimmage after Blue beat Orange 34-0 as the Florida Gators scrimmaged themselves during the annual Orange and Blue spring game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL, Thursday afternoon, April 14, 2022. [Doug Engle/Ocala Star Banner]2022

Oca Orangeandbluegame

Four-star WR Eugene Wilson III commits to Florida

Four-star recruit Eugene Wilson III announced Friday he would stay close to home and play his college football at Florida.

The Tampa native is listed as an “athlete” and rated No. 147 overall in the Class of 2023 by 247Sports’ composite rankings. A two-way player who plays both wide receiver and defensive back, Wilson is expected to play receiver in Gainesville.

Texas A&M was also in the running for Wilson’s services.

Wilson, listed at 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds, becomes the highest-rated prospect (per 247Sports) in the Gators’ 2023 class, which also includes four-star quarterback Marcus Stokes. It is the first recruiting cycle for new head coach Billy Napier, who took the job this offseason after previously coaching Louisiana.

–Field Level Media