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Vanderbilt 31, Florida 24: Suddenly, bowl eligibility is in play

Vanderbilt now has a bowl game on the line to end the season.

Florida v Vanderbilt Photo by Carly Mackler/Getty Images

Box Score

Five Factors Vanderbilt Florida
Five Factors Vanderbilt Florida
Plays 62 63
Total Yards 283 445
Yards Per Play 4.56 7.06
Rushing Attempts 45 21
Rushing Yards 177 45
Rushing YPP 3.93 2.14
Passing Attempts 17 42
Passing Yards 106 400
Passing YPP 6.24 9.52
Rushing Success Rate 31.11% 23.81%
Passing Success Rate 52.94% 47.62%
Success Rate 37.10% 39.68%
Avg. Field Position 38.7 20.4
PP40 4.80 4.80
Turnovers 2 2

To say that was fun is to misremember all the angst of the last five minutes or so of Saturday’s game, when Vanderbilt was holding on for dear life with what started as a 13-point lead after a Joseph Bulovas field goal with 4:38 remaining. In fact, we had some of our old frustrations with the inability to put the game away, with Mike Wright throwing an interception deep in Florida territory on what should have been a drive to put the game out of reach; then, after Florida responded by turning it over on downs at their own 12, Vanderbilt simply ran three vanilla run plays to set up Bulovas’ field goal (with Florida using all of its timeouts in the process.) The lead didn’t feel safe because the lead never feels safe, not against a Florida program that Vanderbilt had beaten exactly once in the preceding 33 years.

And then Florida needed 1:20 to score. Of course they did. Vanderbilt recovered the onside kick, then went three and out (but ran 2:25 off the clock in the process.) But even when Florida took over at its own 9 with 46 seconds left, we couldn’t really breathe easily until Anthony Richardson’s last-ditch attempt (which he never should have gotten, what with a Florida receiver falling down inbounds on the preceding completion with two seconds left, only the clock stopped for no damn reason... but, then, Richardson had the “ball don’t lie” throw when given the extra play.)

Anyway, all of that is to say that when I saw this...

...well, that was a head-scratcher, but as Aria Gerson helpfully pointed out, some of that 8% win expectancy may have just been the result of Florida doing some stat-padding in the last few minutes while Vandy was basically trying to run out the clock. Because while there was certainly some flukiness to the win — it’s not every game that your long snapper recovers a muffed punt in the end zone for a touchdown, and Jaylen Mahoney had a shoestring interception that was a direct result of the turnover fairy — Vanderbilt also made some mistakes of its own. One was the Mike Wright interception on what could have been a dagger drive. Another was Will Sheppard seeing a ghost and fumbling at the Florida 24 in the first quarter.

But we’re in a place as a program where we take wins where we can get them, and right now Vanderbilt is 5-6 and 2-5 in the SEC. Bowl eligibility is on the line when Tennessee comes to town, and even my most optimistic projection going into the season had us topping out at 4-8 and 1-7 in the SEC. We’re playing with house money right now.

Individual Stats

Passing Stats

Passing Comp Att Comp % Yds TD INT Sacks Yds Lost Net Yds Success Rate YPP
Passing Comp Att Comp % Yds TD INT Sacks Yds Lost Net Yds Success Rate YPP
Mike Wright 10 16 62.50% 108 3 1 1 2 106 52.94% 6.2

That’s fine. Mike Wright is never going to be a great passer, but he made enough big plays with his arm to keep Florida’s defense honest.

Rushing Stats

Rushing Att Yds YPA TD Success Rate
Rushing Att Yds YPA TD Success Rate
Ray Davis 29 118 4.068965517 0 31.03%
Patrick Smith 8 40 5 0 25.00%
Mike Wright 7 15 2.142857143 0 28.57%

If there’s something I don’t like about the “success rate” stat, it’s that Vanderbilt’s rushing attack has a tendency to break it, because just consistently getting 3-4 yards on the ground will yield a 33% success rate while also moving the chains. Vanderbilt ran the ball 45 times on Saturday and only five of those runs went for ten yards or more, but it’s hard to call this a bad day.

Receiving Stats

Receiving Targets Catches Yds TD Catch Rate Yds/Target Yds/Catch Success Success Rate
Receiving Targets Catches Yds TD Catch Rate Yds/Target Yds/Catch Success Success Rate
Will Sheppard 6 2 20 0 33.33% 3.3 10.0 2 33.33%
Jayden McGowan 3 3 23 1 100.00% 7.7 7.7 2 66.67%
Ben Bresnahan 1 1 28 1 100.00% 28.0 28.0 1 100.00%
Quincy Skinner 1 1 12 0 100.00% 12.0 12.0 1 100.00%
Ray Davis 1 1 9 0 100.00% 9.0 9.0 1 100.00%
Justin Ball 1 1 9 0 100.00% 9.0 9.0 1 100.00%
Gavin Schoenwald 1 1 7 1 100.00% 7.0 7.0 1 100.00%
Gamarion Carter 1 0 0 0 0.00% 0.0 #DIV/0! 0 0.00%

Keep in mind, there were only sixteen passing attempts all day; it’s still nice to see all the names involved here.


This was another big game for C.J. Taylor, who seems like a guy that Vanderbilt can count its lucky stars plays for them: with the camp circuit shut down prior to his senior year, and with him playing a position in high school (quarterback) that he obviously wasn’t going to play in college, he ended up at Vanderbilt where in a “normal” year there was a decent chance somebody bigger would have seen his talent. Taylor had a team-leading ten tackles, as well as a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry.

What’s Next

Tennessee. 6:30 PM CT Saturday on the SEC Network. The Vols were coasting toward a playoff berth and then they let South Carolina hang a 60 burger on them. This should be fun.