Florida at Vanderbilt
Saturday, 9 am PT - SEC
CRIS Opener: Florida -9.5 O/U 41.5
CRIS Current: Florida -10/5 O/U 40.5
Florida returns to the Volunteer State for the second week in a row, hoping for better results than last week’s 38-28 loss to Tennessee. The Gators got off to a big 21-0 lead in the second quarter but after halftime, the wheels fell as Tennessee scored 35 straight points. The second half turnaround was amazing as Florida had outgained Tennessee 300-162 in the first half and averaged 8.8 yards per play. Florida played very conservatively in the second half on offense while Tennessee came out ferociously and it showed, with the Gators having five straight three-and-outs.
I am going to overlook the second half of that game and focus on what Florida did in the first half and in their other games this season. They had allowed 14 points in the first three games prior to Tennessee and are made up of some solid NFL prospects. Vanderbilt does not pose anywhere near the threat that Tennessee did with quarterback Joshua Dobbs and his receivers.
Vanderbilt’s offense is much more pedestrian, and the Commodores have been outgained in all four games this season. When facing power five opponents, Georgia Tech and South Carolina, they managed just 17 points combined. They were able to score points against C-USA opponents MTSU and Western Kentucky, but were outgained in both games and benefitted from five turnovers. They now face the best defense they have seen all year, one that will come in with a chip on their shoulder after last week’s embarrassing second half.
“That was the most emotional locker room that I’ve ever been in,” quarterback Austin Appleby said. “There were a lot of guys that were really hurt. We fully expected to win that game, we started fast and we just came up a little bit short. Guys were hurt. Guys felt we played our hearts out, we played our hardest, effort wasn’t a problem. We just got beat by a good team and guys really took it personally.”
Coach Jim McElwain: “The mood in that locker room, there were a lot — a lot — of hurt guys. And I’m not sure a couple of the losses even last year I could feel that sense of hurt,” he said Monday. “As I told them, it should hurt because if it doesn’t, something’s wrong. It means you really don’t care. It means you’re in it for the wrong reasons. We’ll see where we bounce from here.”
Florida has won 24 of the last 25 meetings against Vandy and gets one by margin in Nashville on Saturday.