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Better Know an SEC Opponent: The #11 Florida Gators

Vanderbilt, somehow, controls their own destiny in the SEC East. Four straight wins would make them champions - but it would have to start against #11 Florida. Here's what you need to know about the Gators in 2015.

"Coach McElwain, who did you suggest was gon' give it to ya?"
"Coach McElwain, who did you suggest was gon' give it to ya?"
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The School: The University of Florida

Record: 7-1 (5-1 in the SEC). And standing in the way of the Gators first outright SEC East title since 2009? The Vanderbilt Commodores and their 16.8 points per game. Somehow, Vandy controls their own destiny after a 1-3 start, and all it'll take for their first ever divisional crown is consecutive wins over Florida, Texas A&M, Kentucky, and Tennessee. THE RUN STARTS HERE.

Ranking: #11 in the AP Top 25 and #12 in the Coaches' Poll. The formulas have Florida rated 11th in the Real Time RPI. They are ranked 16th in Warren Nolan's power rankings (four spots below Houston. Vandy is #89).

Mascot: The Gators. Specifically Albert E. Gator and Alberta Gator. So if you were wondering where your Dad worked before you came along, it was probably naming mascots in North Central Florida.

Location: Gainesville, FL. If someone calls your hometown a "swamp," that doesn't mean you should wear it as a badge of honor.

Coach: Jim McElwain. Want to know how badly Will Muschamp screwed up the Gators? McElwain has ridden a roster of four- and five-star talent to a 7-1 record against a flailing SEC East and is has been hailed as a hero for doing something as simple as looking at his players in practice and saying "hey, we're using these guys wrong." Florida's success in 2015 suggests that Muschamp's huddles from 2011 to 2014 were just stop-and-go conversations about the merits of Scientology.

Conference: The ESS-EEE-CEE. Like Vanderbilt, Florida is a founding member of the league. Unlike Vanderbilt, Paul Finebaum doesn't constantly try to get them thrown out of the conference on slow news days.

All-time vs. Vanderbilt: 36-10-2.

In the Last 10 Years vs. Vanderbilt: 9-1. But that "1" broke a 23-year losing streak against the Gators. Saturday's game is the 10-year anniversary of that day that the referees decided that a quick step to the right constituted "excessive celebration." No one holds on to bitterness like Vanderbilt fans when SEC refs are involved, so expect several of your friends to mention this around 10:55 am central time this Saturday.

The Last Time We Saw These Guys: I literally have no memory of Vanderbilt's 34-10 loss last season. I remember the 92-3 collective beating the state of Mississippi laid on the Commodores, and I remember the nigh-unwatchable 10-point losses to Kentucky and Missouri, but a 24-point beating was just so nondescript for 2014 that my brain blanked it like it was part of the Watergate tapes. The box score suggests that Vandy quarterbacks completed fewer than 50 percent of their passes and threw more interceptions than touchdowns in a game where Ralph Webb was the lone bright spot. This all feels extremely familiar.

Is Vandy Favored?: C'mon homie. The Commodores are +20.5 underdogs which, if the offense does its work with turnovers like they did last week against Houston, will be impossible to cover by the third quarter.

Most Potent Offensive Threat: Trick question. The only guy on their offense that was moderately above average was also the one that mysteriously gained 50 pounds this offseason and then became the least surprising PED suspension since Laron Landry and his toddler biceps (that is, biceps that are the size of human toddlers). Otherwise, everyone else has their warts. Treon Harris is completing fewer than 50% of his passes against SEC teams. Kelvin Taylor averages less than four yards per carry. Antonio Callaway is awesome, but Florida's only plan of action with him is to throw it high and long and hope he runs under it. The worst part is, that is almost certainly going to happen on Saturday, and they're still going to beat Vandy by 24.

You know what? I'm just going to cheat and say it's our old friend Josh GradyMost accurate passer on the team, guys!

Most Potent Defensive Threat: Jonathan Bullard (4.5 sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss this season) is a terrifying human being who always seems to find a special gear when he plays the Commodores. In his prior three games against Vandy, he's recorded 17 tackles (2.5 for loss) from his spot on the defensive line. He's projected to be an early-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, so whatever he does to chase down Johnny McCrary on Saturday is almost guaranteed to be replayed on ESPN approximately 400 times next May.

Matchup to Watch: Kyle Shurmur vs. Vanderbilt's Concussion Protocol. Shurmur looked every bit a true freshman in last week's loss against Houston, but Johnny McCrary did his best to out-unexperience him by throwing an interception on his very first pass attempt en route to a QB rating of 0.2. Shurmur was bad against Houston, and the remedy for that is almost certainly not facing the nation's #15 defense - but he still may give the team it's best option in terms of protecting the ball. McCrary has turned the ball over approximately twice per game against FBS opponents; Shurmur's rate is half that.

Interesting Fact: There are six Division I hockey programs in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas. There is one professional hockey team in those states.

There are zero  Division I hockey programs in Florida. They have two NHL teams. Nothing is far.

Bonus Fact!: Josh Grady stuck around in Nashville for three bowl games, then jumped ship for a graduate year in Gainesville and a probable SEC East title. That's like trading a suitcase full of IOUs, fire, and empty silly string bottles for a Cadillac. If this kid isn't getting his MBA at Florida then he's missing out on his true calling.

If Florida wins, we: the game's over at 2:30 CST. Do you think that's too early for scotch, or nah?