Game Time: Noon ET
TV: SEC Network
How to watch online: WatchESPN
Odds: Florida opened as 8.5-point favorites. The line bumped up to 10 points. Info comes via OddsShark.
In one of the more interesting SEC matchups on Saturday, the Florida Gators (3-1, 1-1 SEC) look to rebound after their streak of 11 straight victories over the Tennessee Volunteers was snapped last week, while the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-2, 0-1 SEC) would like to get their first division win of the season. The game could potentially be a big deal in the SEC East race as the teams will try to keep up with the Vols, who shouldn’t be expected to have very many losses in league play.
The Gators have to recover from blowing a 21-0 lead in the second quarter to the Volunteers and can’t afford to look ahead to next week’s game against LSU. Austin Appleby did a fine job of managing the game by going for 296 yards on 23 of 39 attempts with three touchdowns and one interception, along with 24 yards on the ground. UF wasn’t very effective with the running game with 106 yards and 3.4 yards per rush, and were forced to lean on its inexperienced signal-caller.
Defensively, the team didn’t have an answer for Josh Dobbs, as he went off for 399 total yards and five scores. Florida got crushed in field position as its average starting field position was around the 17-yard line while UT’s was the 44-yard line, which is a dramatic and costly difference.
Meanwhile, Vanderbilt is coming off of a huge, much-needed win over a talented WKU team that pushed the Commodores to their limit. Vandy controlled time of possession (32:23-27:37) and won the turnover battle (3-1), but getting zero points off of those turnovers kept the Hilltoppers in the game and could’ve gave them a chance to win had WKU decided to take the PAT in overtime instead of going for two and the win.
Kyle Shurmur had an efficient outing with 279 yards on 18/29 attempts with a score and a pick, while Ralph Webb capitalized on his 27 carries with 95 yards and three touchdowns. The defense came up big for Vanderbilt as they held the ‘Toppers to 3-for-12 on third down and forced them to go empty-handed in two red zone trips.
For Florida to get back on track, it has to establish the running game again and not put the game on Appleby’s shoulders. The Gators have to play mistake-free football or they will be in a dogfight from start to finish.
In order for Vandy to pull off the upset, it has to get quick stops and take advantage of the short field. The Commodores don’t have the athletes that UF does, so they won’t be able to put together very many long, methodical drives.
Again, the offense has to protect the football and maximize possessions without putting the defense in a bad spot. The most efficient offense will dictate the outcome of this game.