To say that the Vanderbilt Commodores haven’t had much success against the Florida Gators would be an understatement. Since Florida became an every-year opponent when the SEC split into two divisions in 1992, and turned a sporadic game (the Commodores and Gators had played each other just 25 times prior to 1992) into an annual matchup, the Gators have owned the series: Vanderbilt is 1-25 against Florida in that stretch.
On the other hand, after mostly noncompetitive games when Steve Spurrier was at Florida (including, of course, the 71-13 destruction in Woody Widenhofer’s final season), Vanderbilt has at least come close in recent years. Since James Franklin finally got the Gators in 2013, Vanderbilt lost 9-7 on a late field goal in Gainesville in 2015, then lost 13-6 in 2016. Last year, Florida won 38-24, but a late touchdown on a 4th-down run made the final margin look bigger than it should have been.
Vanderbilt comes into Saturday’s matchup having lost three of four, while Florida is running hot on a four-game winning streak, including back-to-back wins over Top 25 teams in Mississippi State and LSU. A lot of outsiders are pegging this as a potential trap game for Florida, which has the bye week followed by the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party following this game. What say the Anchor of Gold staff?
Well, here we are. The good feelings from the first three games of the season — two comfortable wins over MTSU and Nevada followed by a near-miss at Notre Dame — are mostly gone, and Vanderbilt comes into Saturday’s game against Florida needing a win to save the season. And I don’t think they’re going to get it.
Here’s what I don’t like. I don’t like Florida’s defensive line getting into Kyle Shurmur’s grill. And I definitely don’t like a receiving corps that’s been a one-man show for much of the season going up against the Gators’ talented secondary. Florida’s offense (or lack thereof) means that this might end up being a close-ish game, because the Gators just aren’t going to score a ton of points... but it’s honestly difficult for me to see Vanderbilt scoring too many points on this defense, either. That it’s likely to be close-ish and low-scoring means that a couple of big plays by the defense — a pick six, a scoop and score, what have you — or even a home run by the offense could be enough to swing things. But those are things that haven’t been coming too often against strong opponents.
The Pick: Florida 20, Vanderbilt 10.
The SEC Upset Pick of the Week: I want LSU (+8) over Georgia to happen, so I’m gonna predict it. Do it. Geaux Tigah.
Andrew VU ‘04
Real quick, have you seen how fast the Jorts’ defense is? No, seriously. Go back and watch film on them from the past two games. You cannot beat them to the edge. Period.
Are they beatable? Of course—if you have Alabama, Georgia, or last year’s Notre Dame team’s interior offensive line, you could, in theory, muscle them around and pound the A gap to great success.
We do not have those interior offensive linemen.
The Pick: Florida 27, Vanderbilt 13.
The SEC Upset Pick of the Week: The Game Penises will make aTm go aTm.
The fact is that while LSU’s OL is depleted, they’re still tremendously talented. They were having trouble against even three man rushes the UF DL was sending. I’m not confident we’re going to get much of anything going on offense. Our defense, while good, isn’t ready to stop the Florida SEC SPEED (as VU04 correctly observes). I see this game getting out of hand in the second half. Early in the game it may be competitive but it’ll fall apart like all Vandy games do. As we used to say when I used to be in the student section, “we’d win every game if it was only three quarters!”
The Pick: Florida 35 - Vanderbilt 16
SEC Upset Pick of the Week: I cannot go LSU HEAUXMER on this week. The UGA DC isn’t stupid and will learn from UF how to stop LSU enough. That game is going to be a one score game, but LSU will not be on top short of another miracle comeback. But it’s not night in Death Valley, so....
Auburn will continue to torture their fans and Vandy fans will get to bite their nails even more as TENNESSEE (+16.5) wins at Jordan-Hare.
This game will be similar to the Notre Dame game. Both opponents struggle on offense (ND has since changed QB’s and added a stud RB), and both have elite defenses. This is Vanderbilt’s last shot to get up for a game and beat a ranked team before the losses mount up and demoralize the players.
I predict a relatively quick game with lots of ground attack from both teams. Vandy has a better balance on offense, but they don’t have the speed to compete with UF’s defense in the air. However, with a couple methodical drives and turnover luck, Vandy could win this. But they won’t.
UF’s offense will pound the rock with two strong RB’s and pick its spots with Franks against a suspect Commodore secondary.
The Jimmies and Joes will prevail. Ugh. I hate the Gators.
The Pick: 23-17, Lizards.
SEC Upset of the Week: South Carolina over the Aggies. You better believe Jimbo will lose a game against an unranked team every year.
As VU ‘04 pointed out (and VTPhD misread), Florida’s DEFENSE is scary fast. It is going to take Kyle Shurmur being at his best pre-snap to identify pressure and try to give his OL a chance in both run and pass blocking. Even then, we may just flat out lose the matchups due to their skill up front. Our OL has been good so far, but they’ll need to take a huge step forward to keep Shurmur clean. Although, Florida has leaked against the run some, so maybe Vaughn can find some creases to get through and make plays.
When the Gators have the ball, it’s about their running game. They average 198.8 yards passing per game and 181.5 yards on the ground. Tarver’s plan should be very similar to Notre Dame. Force Franks to beat you with his arm if at all possible. Franks is 84/153 on the season and has only completed 50% or more of his passes against Charleston Southern (66.7%), Colorado State (53.3%), THEM (50.0%), and Mississippi State (71.0%). Even the CSU and UT games were not efficient outings. If the Commodores can stop the run, it will at least keep us in the game.
The Pick: 23-20
SEC Upset of the Week: I really don’t think there will be one this week, but if I had to pick one, it would probably be us. Maybe SC over A&M? The Game Penises have been too inconsistent, and Jimbo is going to use the close win over UK to show them they have a long way to go. Or for more hand-wringing for us, Arkansas finds a way to beat Ole Miss. Meh.