Vanderbilt Commodores (2-7, 2-5-1 ATS) at No. 1 Florida Gators (8-0, 3-3-1 ATS) The Swamp Gainesville, F.L. Saturday November 7th, 7:15PM Eastern
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
The top ranked Florida Gators whipped up on Georgia last week at the “Cocktail Party” by a score of 41-17. The Gators defense was the story of the day forcing 4 turnovers as the Gators rallied in one of their biggest test that remained on the schedule. Florida is now just 4 games away from finishing a perfect 12-0 on the regular season as they continue to defend their National Championship. The Gators will host Bobby Johnson’s Vanderbilt Commodores this Saturday night in The Swamp.
Vanderbilt nearly upset South Carolina two weeks ago, but allowed a late score and the win slipped away. The Commodores had similar results last week. Vanderbilt led Georgia Tech early in the 3rd quarterback 31-28, but allowed 28 unanswered points to fall disappointingly 56-31. The Commodores will look to put together a full 60 minute performance this weekend and hope to catch Florida in a letdown situation after their big win over Georgia.
The Commodores have a huge area of concern heading into this Saturday’s battle. The concern comes from the rushing defense that is allowing just less than 200 yards per game on the ground ranking 102nd in college football. The Commodores gave up 404 yards on the ground last week to Georgia Tech and that throws up a lot of red flags as the Gators also have one of the top rushing offenses in the country. Vanderbilt will likely not be able to score points like they did against Georgia Tech meaning they will have to get the defense to play much better if they are to keep things to close.
The Commodores freshman tailback Warren Norman has been the only consistent performer on offense. Norman has almost 600 yards on the season and is averaging 5.7 yards per carry with 3 scores. The problem the offense has experienced is they literally do not have a pass offensive presence. QB Sophomore Larry Smith has 7 interceptions on the year compared to just 4 touchdowns. Smith is completing just 47% of his passes and the Commodores are just averaging 156 yards per game as a team throwing the football. The Florida defense has been superb against the run as they have one of the best defenses in all of college football. The Commodores are not going to have any chance at a win if they don’t at least make a few plays in the passing game to keep the Gators from loading the box.
The Gators defense ranks 2nd in college football holding opponents to just 236 yards per game. The Florida defense has not allowed over 20 points all season long and it is safe to say that are a tenacious bunch. The Gators defensive line will be the key in this game as they defend the Vanderbilt running game. However, guys like defensive end Carlos Dunlap and LB Brandon Spikes have helped the defense keep opposing offenses stuck in neutral. Florida ranks in the top 15 in rush defense allowing just 97 yards per game and also in the top 15 in sacks averaging 3 per game. If the Gators defense continues to put up those stellar numbers, then it should make things very difficult for the struggling Commodores.
QB Tim Tebow led the offense in rushing last week with 18 carries for 84 yards and 2 rushing touchdowns. The two rushing touchdowns vaulted Tebow past the legendary Herschel Walker of Georgia as the all-time leader in the SEC in rushing touchdowns. For all those that know college football, that is a monumental achievement. Tebow also completed 15 of 21 for 164 yards in the air in an all-around performance.
WR Riley Cooper is the team’s top target on the outside is fresh off a 4 catch 78 yard performance and look for him and tight end Aaron Hernandez to be the go to guys in the passing game. However, considering how bad Vanderbilt has defended the run, the Gators will likely keep the ball on the ground a good bit. Running back Jeffery Demps and Chris Rainey have been huge contributors in the ground game combining for 868 yards and 8 scores. If the Gators can keep their strong rushing game in forward, they should be able to control the game rather easily.
Jay’s Pick - Florida -32.5.