Time: Saturday, October 13th, 12 p.m. ET/ 11 p.m. CT
Commentators: Dave Pasch, Greg McElroy & Tom Luginbell
Odds: Florida (-7.5)
The Florida Gators and Vanderbilt Commodores will play for the 52nd time in Nashville for an early morning SEC matchup. The Gators are currently riding on a four-game win steak in the series and have won 26 of the last 27 against the Commodores. Vandy has not beaten the Gators in Nashville since 1988. It’s safe to say this matchup has been fairly one-sided in recent memory, but Vandy will look to change that come Saturday.
The two teams come in under different circumstances. Vandy has dropped three of their last four, with their one win coming against Tennessee State. After a successful 2-0 start, the ‘Dores were taken down a peg after a crushing loss against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish back in Week 3 up in South Bend. Florida, meanwhile, after an auspicious start (which included the Kentucky Wildcats breaking the streak Brock Lesnar-style) has won four games in a row, with a massive win over LSU last week in The Swamp being the most impressive victory.
If Vanderbilt wants to pull of the upset at home their offense is going to have to come to play. And it all starts with their running game. Despite the blowout loss to the Georgia Bulldogs, running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn looked good carrying the ball. He ran nine times for 79 yards. On the year, he has 439 yards while averaging 6.8 yards a carry.
Florida has been gashed at times in the run game, as their run defense is ranked 81st in the country. However, the Gators have done an incredible job on defense limiting scoring, as they rank fifth in the SEC in scoring defnese (14.8 PPG/a). Kyle Shurmur will have to make some tight throws, which he has the talent to do, in order for Vanderbilt to put up enough points to win this game. The offensive line will have to give him time though as Florida has a relentless pass rush, led by Jachai Polite, who already has six sacks on the season.
On the flip side of things Florida has been better on offense, but not quite where I am sure Dan Mullen would like things to be. Feleipe Franks looks better than he did last year, but it still only completing about 55 percent percent of his passes. He does have 13 touchdowns and only four interceptions, though. The run game has been solid though, led by a trio of runners who have over 250 yards running and a fourth who is at 198. Vanderbilt’s run defense isn’t anything to brag about either, as they sit at 74th in the country giving up 165 yards a game. Josh Smith is a playmaker on the Commodore defense with four tackles for a loss and three sacks.
Both teams can run the ball well, and both teams’ run defenses aren’t the best in the world and have been tested against quality rushing attacks. This esteemed journalist expects a low-scoring game that will be made by a couple plays.
Florida is coming into this game on a roll and has a bye week next week before The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party on October 27th. However, the Gators may be in for a bit of a let down after such an emotional win last week. And going on the road for an early kick in what won’t be a raucous environment could see some surprises. UF will have its struggles but will pick up a road win as Vandy squanders another chance to pick up a key win for Derek Mason.
Prediction: Florida 23, Vanderbilt 10