Feel free to make your New Year's travel plans. Vanderbilt football will not be returning to a bowl game in 2014.
Florida handed the Commodores their sixth-straight conference loss in a 34-10 win on Saturday night. The defeat dropped Vandy to 0-6 in SEC play and 3-7 overall to squash any dream of bowl eligibility in Derek Mason's first year as head coach in Nashville.
Gator quarterback Treon Harris had 274 total yards and two rushing touchdowns in the win - Florida's second in a row after a 29-point loss to Missouri. Vandy passer Johnny McCrary completed 16 of 34 passes for 160 yards and threw for a touchdown, but also had three interceptions that eliminated the 'Dores hopes of a comeback late in this game.
Vanderbilt struck first when McCrary engineered an 85-yard drive that ended when the freshman QB stepped up in the face of a big hit and found Steven Scheu for a 33-yard touchdown. The Gators responded immediately with a 65-yard drive of their own. Kelvin Taylor found a seam in an otherwise stingy Vandy D to run 13 yards and make it 7-7 as the first quarter wore down.
The 'Dores were put on the ropes one drive later when Florida faced 2nd-and-goal from the Commodore one-yard line, but Vandy found a second gear and drove the Gator line back on three straight plays to force a turnover on downs. Derek Mason's team couldn't capitalize on that momentum. Two plays later, Ralph Webb fumbled to give UF another first-and-goal situation. Though their defense held tough, Jeff Driskel found a molecule of the goal line on a fourth-and-inches dive that gave the Gators a 14-7 lead.
Vandy got the ball back with solid field position after a 33-yard Darrius Sims return, but Webb fumbled on his second-straight carry to give the ball back to the visitors and set up a Florida field goal. That made it 17-7 at the half.
The teams exchanged punts in an uneventful third quarter before Florida quarterback Treon Harris found Quinton Dunbar down the right sideline for 60 yards to set up first-and-goal. The Gators left no doubt about the validity of their touchdown this time; Harris scrambled seven yards to give UF a 24-7 lead with less than 15 minutes to play.
Vandy cut their deficit to 14 points behind Tommy Openshaw's 48-yard field goal, but Harris struck again - this time on a 33-yard touchdown run - to make it 31-10 and effectively seal a Gator victory. Patton Robinette would return to quarterback and lead Vandy to the UF four-yard line, but he couldn't punch it in to cut the Florida lead as time wound down.
Vanderbilt may have lost, but at least Darreon Herring got to decapitate someone on punt return coverage:
The Commodores will take a week off before returning to action when they head to #1 Mississippi State. Oddsmakers are sure to make the spread in that game higher than most toddlers can count. Florida will host South Carolina in a game that, somehow, could determine the SEC East's entrant in the conference championship game.