Published October 11, 2012 - 12:50pm
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A Florida-Vanderbilt date isn’t a sexy matchup by any stretch of the imagination, but the Commodores usually find a way to play the Gators pretty tough. This year will be no different, as the Commodores are coming off their first SEC road win of the James Franklin era against Missouri (and Missouri is officially the new Vanderbilt).
The Dores have their first sellout in four years. The last of the 40,350 tickets were sold on Wednesday. Florida did not accept the full allotment of 6,000 tickets, only taking 4,176.
“It’s progress,” Commodores coach James Franklin said after Wednesday night’s practice. “I know a lot of it is the excitement of the team that we’re playing. But in general, that’s progress.
“Selling out is great, but we’ve got to put a product on the field that people can be excited about and they want to keep coming out to see.”
Florida is coming off its first signature win of the Will Muschamp era, dominating the #4 LSU Tigers in impressive style 14-6. They’re a tougher team altogether, both mentally and physically. The Gators are the only team in college football not to allow a single point in the fourth quarter and are outscoring opponents 78-13 in the second half.
So, is Florida due for a letdown on the road against Vandy, in what some would call a snoozer?
For Florida, the Vanderbilt game is sandwiched between arguably the two biggest games of the season – LSU and South Carolina. Coming off an emotional win for the Gators, they could face a top-three ranked Gamecocks team next weekend in Gainesville. The pesky Commodores could seemingly be left overlooked in the middle.
Vanderbilt was throttled by Georgia but played South Carolina very tough and eked out an SEC win on the road against Missouri. The Commodores are seventh in the SEC in total defense, allowing 341 yards per game. However, the rushing defense is 11th, allowing teams 179 yards on the ground per game.
Florida will look to establish the running game early and dominate both lines of scrimmage. The Gators’ running game averages over 214 yards on the ground, evidenced by the punishment they delivered to LSU last weekend. It’s hard to lose against Vanderbilt when teams dominate the line of scrimmage.
However, this is not your daddy’s Vanderbilt, as James Franklin will have his team prepared to take on a top five team in Florida. A win, though, can completely turn around Vanderbilt’s season and would be a huge momentum builder for the future.
Will Muschamp, on the other hand, is your classic overachiever. He’ll have Florida ready to play, making his Gators think the Commodores are favored at home. Florida has looked more impressive on the road than at home this season, with two SEC wins at Texas A&M and Tennessee.
Florida Wins If: They establish the run early. Mike Gillislee is the only player in the SEC averaging over 100 yards per game on the ground in the SEC, and Florida will go to the well early. Not only Gillislee, but I expect more Trey Burton and Jeff Driskel running the ball, too. The Gators have run at will, and I’m not sure Vanderbilt can stop them.
Vanderbilt Wins If: They force multiple turnovers and turn them into touchdowns. Florida is the more dominant team, but the Gators can lose if they get lackadaisical with the ball and turn it over. They did that twice last week against LSU. Vanderbilt will look to be very greedy on defense and will force a couple different turnovers, ultimately hoping to turn those into touchdowns and not field goals.