Florida and Vanderbilt are 4-4 teams that seem to be going in opposite directions.
The Gators keep blundering their way through losses, while the Commodores continue to show dramatic improvement under first-year coach James Franklin and new starting quarterback Jordan Rodgers, the brother of Green Bay Packers’ star QB Aaron Rodgers.
While the Commodores seem to be generating momentum, the Gators seem stuck under a dark cloud in the form of their four-game losing streak that has basically ruined their season.
Things are bad for UF. But it could get worse. Losing to Vanderbilt on Homecoming in The Swamp would sink the Gators to new depths of depression. This is a game Florida absolutely has to win if the Gators hope to become bowl eligible.
Vanderbilt certainly is good enough to win this game. Florida, of course, is bad enough to lose it.
The Commodores have been on fire since Rodgers took over at quarterback in the Georgia game three weeks ago. In the past three games, Vandy has rushed for almost 800 yards (as compared to the Gators amassing 175 yards rushing during their four-game losing streak). In the last two games with Rodgers as the starter, the Commodores have averaged more than 450 yards a game in total offense.
While the Gators were falling all over themselves in a loss to Georgia last Saturday, the Commodores almost upset No. 8 Arkansas. Take away a crushing turnover (a 94-yard fumble return for a TD) early in the third quarter, and Vandy would have had its signature victory.
Maybe that signature win will come in The Swamp. I don’t think it will shock anybody if it does, given the way Florida has been playing.
But I do think the Gators have some things going for them. The defense, especially the front seven, has been improving. John Brantley’s ankle has gotten better and Charlie Weis may be able to run the offense he likes, but hasn’t been able to run since the first half of the Alabama game. And Florida should get some much-needed home energy after being on the road for most of the month of October.
Prediction: Florida 28, Vanderbilt 27.