This week, though, it's not just the Wildcats the Gators are trying to beat.
With players battling the flu, the top-ranked Gators hope to overcome the spread of an illness and win their 23rd straight over
Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made
After starting the season with blowout wins over two non-conference opponents,
Many expected the defending national champions to run
"It wasn't how we envisioned or hoped," said Tim Tebow, whose streak of games with a touchdown pass ended at 30. "But it's a win and it's good enough for all of us."
The Gators had some excuses for their lackluster offense.
Running back Jeff Demps, tight end Aaron Hernandez and defensive end Jermaine Cunningham were isolated last week because of flulike symptoms. They all took the field against the Vols, but none seemed to play up to par.
Demps, who had a 101-degree temperature, ran four times for 31 yards and a touchdown. Hernandez caught four passes for 26 yards, while Cunningham finished with one tackle.
No player has had a confirmed case of swine flu, but coach Urban Meyer said he was concerned the virus could ravage his team. As a precaution, the Gators got a round of flu shots Sunday, one week after a school official predicted that as many as 40 percent of students could catch swine flu.
"We knew there was something going on and there was a few players getting sick, but we didn't know the extent of how many people on our team were sick from it," senior receiver David Nelson said.
While some players could miss this game because of the flu, linebacker Brandon Spikes might be out because of tendinitis in his Achilles' tendon.
The team's defensive captain missed most of the second half last week and is wearing a protective boot.
Although the Gators might not be at full strength,
"The second string could probably play anywhere else in the nation right now," Wildcats wide receiver Randall Cobb said. "That just shows how much depth
Tebow had a subpar outing against the Vols, passing for 115 yards while rushing for 76 and a TD on 24 attempts, but he should be able to bounce back against the Wildcats. In his last two games versus
"It seems like we always get them when they're mad," coach Rick Brooks said. "They didn't light up the scoreboard like they're accustomed to lighting it up, so I'm sure they're going to want to come in here and show everybody their offense is still very explosive."
The Wildcats are set to open SEC play after defeating
Mike Hartline's 12-yard touchdown pass to Cobb in the corner of the end zone with 4:28 remaining in the game sealed the win for
The Wildcats rallied twice in the second half, overcoming three third-quarter turnovers and a barrage of long-yardage plays orchestrated by the
"The turnovers are inexcusable, it's not normal that you lose the turnover battle and win the game," Brooks said. "If you make big mistakes you won't win any game, let alone against the No. 1 team in the country."
It's not going to get any easier for
Posted: 9/22/09 6:08PM ET