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FPI favors Tennessee to end Florida's win streak, and other key stats

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Jones praises Florida pass rush, says game will come down to field position (1:12)

Tennessee coach Butch Jones says Saturday's game against Florida will come down to field position and praises the Gators' pass rush. (1:12)

How much will history matter Saturday when Tennessee (2-1) attempts to snap a 10-game series losing streak against Florida (3-0, 1-0 SEC)? Maybe there is some residual psychological effect from such a long period of futility, but ESPN's computer metrics still like the Volunteers to snap the Gators' run of success this weekend.

In case you missed the "Man. vs. Metric" discussion Thursday between Mark Schlabach and Sharon Katz, ESPN's Football Power Index gives Tennessee a 56 percent chance to win at Florida.

Let's take a look at key elements in this matchup:

The turnover battle: Maybe this seems like a no-brainer. Turnover margin is one of the most telling statistics in football, after all.

In this case, it might be particularly relevant. Turnovers have defined Tennessee's shortcomings during this losing streak, with the Vols committing more than twice as many turnovers (27) as the Gators (13).

This year's Tennessee team has been much more opportunistic than in years past when it comes to making something out of its takeaways.

Both Tennessee and Florida have forced six turnovers this season. The Vols have outscored opponents 31-0 off turnovers, while the Gators have outscored opponents 21-20 after turnovers.

If Josh Dobbs and the Tennessee offense can play a clean game against a stout Florida defense and not provide the Gators' mediocre offense with short fields and easy scoring opportunities, that would be a huge point in the Vols' favor.

Quarterback play: Speaking of Dobbs, he has not been the breakout superstar of 2015 that some expected. Not yet, anyway.

The Vols quarterback has performed well in games against Bowling Green and Western Carolina, but he disappointed in Tennessee's only loss, to Oklahoma (13-for-31, 125 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 12 rushing yards, 1 TD).

This will be his 13th career start, and the Vols likely need a more consistent performer at quarterback than the one Dobbs (No. 66 in ESPN's Total Quarterback Rating at 53.9) has been thus far. Nonetheless, it still appears Tennessee has the edge at QB over a Florida team that will trot out freshman Will Grier (No. 73 in QBR at 52.7) for a third straight start -- particularly since Florida's other quarterback, Treon Harris, is suspended this week.

Grier was phenomenal in the opener against New Mexico State but has struggled of late with Florida's offensive line and skill talent still in the developmental stages. Grier passed for 125 yards and an interception and rushed for a team-high 61 yards and a touchdown in last week's narrow win over Kentucky.

However, he has performed well on third down, completing 10 of 14 passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Grier's ability to extend drives will be key against a Tennessee defense that excels on third down, ranking 25th nationally by allowing opposing offenses to convert for a first down or touchdown just 28 percent of the time.

Tennessee offense vs. Florida defense: It's too early to tell, but Florida just might possess the SEC's best defense. New coordinator Geoff Collins' bunch ranks toward the top of the list, at the very least.

The Gators are surrendering 55.3 rushing yards per game, tops in the SEC and No. 7 in the FBS, and rank 11th nationally in total defense (258.0 ypg). But those performances came against New Mexico State, East Carolina and Kentucky -- opponents that don't have Tennessee's offensive firepower. Plus, the Gators will be without suspended starting cornerback Jalen Tabor on Saturday.

Many expected Tennessee to be explosive on offense, although the results to date -- blasting two overmatched opponents and struggling against a Top 25 team -- are difficult to decipher. However, last Saturday's 55-10 win over Western Carolina provided a small sampling of Tennessee's capabilities, as the Vols scored touchdowns on the ground, through the air and with kick returns (on a punt by Alvin Kamara and a kickoff by Evan Berry).

Dobbs has a big group of gifted receivers at his disposal, which should be a great matchup against a Florida secondary that ranks among the SEC's best even with Quincy Wilson replacing Tabor. But it's the running game that might determine Tennessee's fate in the Swamp.

With Jalen Hurd (100 rushing ypg) and Kamara (65.0), Tennessee has one of the SEC's top backfield duos. The Vols rank third in the SEC with 246.0 rushing ypg, and they ran effectively (Hurd ran 24 times for 109 yards and a score) against an Oklahoma defense that has been adequate against the run.

Will the Vols be able to repeat that performance against a stout Gator front that is allowing just 2.0 ypc? That will be a tall order.