After authoring up a potentially season-saving win over a bitter rival, all eyes are on Florida coach Will Muschamp this week to see if he can get his inconsistent Gators to do something they haven’t all season: Handle prosperity. When Florida meets rebuilding Vanderbilt in SEC play on Saturday, the Gators, coming off a surprisingly easy 38-20 win over Georgia in Jacksonville, will try to post consecutive victories for the first time since Sept. 6 and 13. Though the Commodores have won two of the past three games, they are winless in conference and might be just what the doctor ordered as Florida eyes a potential berth in the league title game.
The Gators were down on their luck, and slowly setting their sights on next season after consecutive SEC losses to LSU (30-27) and Missouri (42-13). But Muschamp ordered up a run-heavy plan versus the Bulldogs that resulted in 418 rushing yards and took the pressure off freshman quarterback Treon Harris. And with Vanderbilt 71st in the nation in rushing defense, allowing 170.9 yards as well as 32.2 points per game, you can likely expect more of the same from the Gators.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network. LINE: Florida -14.5
ABOUT VANDERBILT (3-6, 0-5 SEC): The Commodores had big plans in the SEC East this season, but were stunned, 37-7, in Week 1 by Temple of the American Athletic Conference, and have not recovered. Their three victories are over Massachusetts, Old Dominion and Charleston Southern, and they rank just 112th overall in the nation at 19.9 points per game. With 755 yards and three scores, freshman running back Ralph Webb has been a pleasant surprise, but Vanderbilt has trailed by such large deficits this season that he often doesn't get much work in the second halves of games.
ABOUT FLORIDA (4-3, 3-3): Harris has completed just 15-of-24 passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns this season, but the Gators have clearly played inspired ball when he is under center. Though he is a dual-threat quarterback and will likely have his share of stat-stuffer games, for now, he is a game manager whose main responsibility is to keep that balanced running attack humming. That means Matt Jones (113 carries, 616 yards, five touchdowns) and Kelvin Taylor (69 for 397, four TDs) will remain the focus as Florida looks to close conference play with wins over the Commodores and South Carolina on Nov. 15.
1. Florida leads the all-time series, 35-10-2, and is 16-7-1 versus the Commodores in Nashville.
2. The Gators lead the SEC in red-zone efficiency, as they've converted 24-of-25 trips into points this season.
3. Vanderbilt has 12 players on its roster from the state of Florida, including Webb, who attended Gainesville High School and grew up in the shadow of Florida Field.
PREDICTION: Florida 30, Vanderbilt 10