The most encouraging thing Dan Mullen’s first Florida team has done this season is show steady progress every Saturday since the loss to Kentucky a month ago. If that trend continues, the Gators should be OK in Nashville on Saturday. But if it doesn’t and they take a step back, the upset certainly comes into play.
I certainly can see how the upset could happen. If the Gators are careless with the ball and Feleipe Franks reverts to some of his bad habits and the defense gets burned on some explosive plays, then, yes, Florida can lose this game.
Vanderbilt is capable of playing with, and beating, Florida. The Commodores nearly upset Notre Dame in South Bend a month ago before falling 22-17. Just last week, Vandy gave No. 2 Georgia some serious trouble in the first half before the Bulldogs eventually took command in a 41-13 decision that was much closer than that score indicates.
Mullen’s message to his players this week has been that they need to focus on themselves, practice just as hard or harder than they have the past several weeks, and make sure the arrow keeps pointing up in terms of their progress.
This is what all coaches strive for, their team improving over the course of the season. So far, it’s been happening for the Gators. If that continues Saturday, the Gators will head into their bye at 6-1 with a huge date looming with Georgia. If the Gators take a step back, the upset is going to happen and it’s going to be a long two weeks between now and going to Jacksonville.
My first prediction is that this game is going to be decided in the fourth quarter.
My second prediction is Mullen will have the Gators prepared with a plan to win, and they will execute it just well enough to get by.
Prediction: Florida 16, Vanderbilt 10.