Vandy will make it tough

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It seems easy enough: beat Vanderbilt at home on homecoming to clinch the Eastern Division. But anyone who has been paying attention to these two teams knows this is no simple task the Gators are facing Saturday in The Swamp.

Vandy’s defense is strong enough to give the Commodores a chance. And Florida’s is struggling enough, especially in the passing game, to keep this game in doubt going into the fourth quarter. So, let’s go ahead and put an upset alert tag on this game.

My first prediction — and I’m really confident about it — is the Gators will not cover that 21-point spread, which is way too big. Given the injury situation on the offensive line and the inconsistent play of quarterback Treon Harris, I’m not confident saying the offense can even score 21 points against the Vandy defense, which is giving up less than 19 points a game. If pass protection isn’t a whole lot better than it was against Georgia, the Gators are going to have a hard time sustaining drives and scoring points.

So, of course, as it usually does, it comes down to the Florida defense. The Gators are coming off a strong performance against Georgia and have a chance to dominate the offensively challenged Commodores, who were shut out last week at Houston.

This game is going to be hard to watch because they’re likely won’t be much offense produced by either team. That means it’s going to be a close one that will keep the home ground nervous deep into the fourth quarter.

But with what’s on the line, and the potential for the UF defense to overwhelm the Vandy offense, it will turn out well for the Gators in the end, and there will be a championship celebration in The Swamp.

Prediction: Florida 21, Vanderbilt 9