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Two of first three kickoff times, TV stations revealed for Tennessee Football, ending a historic era

We knew it was going to end next year, but the annual matchup on CBS between Tennessee Football and the Florida Gators has finished earlier than we thought. Those two will not be playing on CBS this year.

Kickoff times for the Vols’ opener against the Virginia Cavaliers and at Florida two weeks later have been revealed, as for TV stations their first three games. UT faces UVA in Nashville at Noon on ABC. They host the Austin Peay Governors on SEC Network+.

However, they will visit Florida at 7 p.m. the next week on ESPN. Tennessee Football revealed the information for all three of these games on its Twitter account Wednesday afternoon.

It seems like a small thing, but the Tennessee-Florida rivalry exploded just as the SEC on CBS emerged. In fact, you might go as far as to say it made the SEC on CBS as popular as it was.

This deal was inked in 1996, Peyton Manning’s junior year. At the time, Florida was on a three-game winning streak in the series, but this rivalry was still relatively young, as they didn’t become permanent opponents until 1992.

What really took the rivalry to another level was 1997, when despite losing to Florida for a fifth straight year, Tennessee Football joined the Gators as the only two teams to represent the East in the SEC Championship game. Manning never beating UF cemented it.

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Over the next four years, this rivalry produced some of the greatest memories in each of the schools history. They split the series 2-2, neither team winning a game by more than four points, and the winner won the East each time.

CBS was there for all of it. The watershed moment came in 2001, when the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks delayed the game until December. The Vols won that matchup 34-32 in The Swamp, Steve Spurrier’s final home game.

After that, the rivalry began to fade, as Florida won 11 straight and 16 of 17 from 2005 to 2021 while UT fell apart as a program. Neither team has won the SEC in 15 years. When the league goes to 16 teams after this year, it’s unlikely they continue playing each other annually.

Still, since the SEC on CBS began 27 years ago, the Tennessee-Florida game has been on the network 23 times and in the primetime slot 22 times. It sometimes kicked off the network’s season.

Ironically, the end of the SEC on CBS marks the same ending of this being a rivalry. However, with news of the game being on ESPN this year, Tennessee-Florida on CBS has already come to an end.

At least Tennessee Football fans can take solace in the fact that they beat Florida the last time the game was ever played on that network. It’s a part of history nobody will want to forget.

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