Vanderbilt hadn't beaten Florida in Gainesville since 1945. On Saturday, a generation of baby boomers saw a Commodore win unlike any they had ever seen in their lifetimes.
Vandy took advantage of Tyler Murphy's turnovers to fend off Florida in a 34-17 win at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. It was the 'Dores first win over the Gators since 1988 and their first win in the Swamp in 68 years. The victory improved James Franklin's team to 5-4 (2-3 SEC) on the season and leaves them just one win from going to their third straight bowl game.
Vanderbilt deployed a conservative offense that played to Patton Robinette and Jerron Seymour's strengths, but it was Florida's turnovers that drove this team to a victory in the swamp.
The 'Dores took their opening drive 62 yards for some rare first quarter points, putting up a 3-0 lead and then holding strong as the Gators missed a field goal of their own on the other end. It was a sign of things to come. Though Vandy went three-and-out on their next drive, an Andre Hal interception put this team on the Gator 10-yard line and Seymour came through with a highlight-reel run on the next play to give the visiting team a 10-0 lead.
This team would take advantage of two more Murphy picks and turn them into touchdowns in order to build a 31-10 lead with under 15 minutes to play.
Florida wouldn't go down without a fight, however. Despite a steady stream of fans departing the homecoming game, the Gators punched back, holding the Vandy offense to a pair of three-and-outs and cutting the Commodore lead to 31-17 late in the game. However, the 'Dores defensive line drove back UF's final drive, marching Murphy back approximately 40 yards to squash the home team's momentum and give the back back to Vanderbilt with 3:30 to play and a 14-point lead.
That defensive intensity drove a unit that bent but never broke against a tough Gator offense. The Vandy defensive line kept Murphy on his heels all game, and that led to three interceptions that the team quickly converted into three touchdowns. Vanderbilt held Florida to fewer than 225 yards in the first three quarters before allowing the Gators to put some drives together as the clock wound down.
Robinette went 6-12 with 57 passing yards (45 to Jordan Matthews) in the win. He also added 26 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Seymour had 62 yards and three touchdowns in Vanderbilt's first win over the Gators since Ronald Reagan was president. Seymour now has a dozen rushing TDs for the year, and he's only two scores away from tying Zac Stacy's single-season school record.
Vanderbilt will return to action next week in a bid to qualify for bowl eligibility against Kentucky. The Wildcats are 2-7 this season. That game will kickoff at 11:21 CST at Dudley Field.