No. 23 Florida Gators (3-1 SU, 1-3 ATS) vs. Vanderbilt Commodores (2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS)
College Football Week 5
Date/Time: Saturday, October 1st, 12:00PM (EST)
Where: Vanderbilt Stadium Nashville, T.N.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: FLA -10.5/VAN +10.5
Over/Under Total: TBA
At the 30 minute mark of last Saturday’s game against Tennessee, Florida not only appeared in control but they appeared to have the entire SEC East within their grasp. However, the Gators collapsed in the 2nd half and were outscored 35-7 in those final 30 minutes of playing time in what turned out to be a 38-28 loss. The defeat snapped a 12 year winning streak over Tennessee and perhaps most devastatingly set the Gators back in the race for the SEC East. This week Florida looks to rebound over another SEC Division foe when they go on the road to battle the Vanderbilt Commodores in Nashville.
After suffering losses in 2 of their first 3 games, Vanderbilt bounced back to put a win on the board last week to get back to the .500 mark. However, the win did not come easy as they just narrowly pulled out an overtime victory over Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers actually went for a 2 point conversion at the end of the first overtime to score the victory but the Commodores negated their efforts. The good news is that Vanderbilt got back to .500 on the season with a hard fought victory. The bad news is that they have yet to play very well and live up to the expectations this team placed going into the season. Now the Commodores will start down a dark road that includes 7 of their 8 final games against SEC teams.
Coach Derek Mason had higher expectations for his Vanderbilt team this year. Several Vanderbilt players were guaranteeing a victory over South Carolina in the opener and I think most Vanderbilt fans expected they would continue to see progress in Mason’s 3rd year. However, that has not been the case. Vanderbilt has won just 9 games since 2013 and is just 2-15 SU in their last 17 games against SEC teams. The problem with this year’s team is similar to the last few years under Mason where they just have not had much success on offense.
Quarterback Kyle Shurmur has completed just 55% passing for 614 yards in 4 games and has just 3 scores with 2 picks. Since Austyn Carta-Samuels and Jordan Matthews lit up the air attack with 9 wins in 2013, the Vanderbilt passing attack has become nearly extinct. The only brightness on the offense has been through the legs of running back Ralph Webb. Webb is a hard runner that is capable of putting the offense on his shoulders but he just needs some help. Despite being Vanderbilt’s only form of offense, Webb has still average 5 yards per carry on 94 touches this year. He should have some opportunities again tomorrow despite Florida’s rather solid defense but the offense has to find some big plays to keep this game close.
The Gators defense gave up several big plays in the 2nd half to Tennessee last week but the good news for them is that they will not be facing Joshua Dobbs this Saturday. For the season, Florida has been very strong defensively and they should have the upper hand in this Saturday’s matchup. On offense, the Gators will look for senior quarterback Austin Appleby to build off last week’s performance in place of former starter Luke Del Rio. Del Rio’s knee injury did not turn out to be as serious as first believed but it still may be a stretch for him to be back by this Saturday. Appleby was pretty efficient last week as he hit 23 of 39 passes for 296 yards with 3 scores and a pick. The Gators have a stable of healthy running backs and Appleby should give them plenty of opportunities to make plays in the passing game if his number is called again.
Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The Gators have won 24 of the last 25 games over Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt’s only win during that time was in their breakout 2013 season that I alluded to earlier. The Gators will continue to add to that impressive run over Vanderbilt this week largely in part to the defense. A few big plays by Florida and this game will get ugly. Take Florida -10.5
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