When: 12:00 p.m. (ET) Saturday Nov.9, 2013; FOX Sports South
Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium; Gainesville, Florida
After three straight games of going against top five SEC offenses, the Gators get a little bit of a reprieve with Vanderbilt's 10th ranked offense in the SEC. Florida's second ranked defense should feel a little better, especially since Vanderbilt is last in rushing offense (141.5 yards per game). The Gators were gashed big time in all three losses. Vanderbilt sophomore running back Jerron Seymour leads the team with 59.9 yards a game and 5.1 yards per carry.
In the passing game, Vanderbilt red-shirt freshman Patton Robinette had to sub for starter Austyn Carta-Samuels against Georgia and helped pull out the win at home against the Bulldogs. On the season and for his career, Robinette is 28 for 48 pass attempts for 364 yards, three interceptions, and a touchdown.
Robinette's main target will be Jordan Matthews, maybe the best receiver in the SEC. Matthews has 66 receptions for 890 yards and five touchdowns. He is a huge target and a hard matchup for anyone. Florida will have to play better pass defense, mainly on Matthews this week.
An issue for Vanderbilt has been sacks where they have given up 26 on the season, good for last in the SEC. Florida's pass rush is usually opportune on teams that aren't good at pass protection, we can expect a big day out fo Dante Fowler.
With the rookie quarterback and a week off to prepare, one would beliee Vanderbilt may have spent time on their running game and as usual, Florida will set out to stop the run first. As mentioned, Vandy is last in rush offense, so this overall matchup really seems to play in the favor of the Gators and maybe in a big way.
Florida's last place offense will face a 10th ranked Vanderbilt defense. They are 9th in the conference in both rushing defense and pass defense. The Commodores are good at taking the ball away and have recovered 10 fumbles this season, good for tops in the conference.
Look for Florida to lean on freshman running back Kelvin Taylor and junior Mack Brown. With the top three offensive tackles out, the Gators don't want to take too many chances. The Commodores are averaging almost two sacks a game and have 15 for the season.
With Florida's lousy offense, you have to give the overall edge to Vanderbilt in this matchup, but it is probably closer than you might think.
Vanderbilt is not really a threat to return punts or kickoffs and they are ranked next to last in the conference in both. Florida counters with the 3rd best kickoff coverage unit and a punting unit that is rising fast with a new punter that is kicking well.
The Commodores are 6th in the conference in both kick coverage and punt coverage, while Florida is 3rd in the conference in both return categories.
The only way the Gators should lose the special teams race on Saturday is if they get in a kicking match. Where Vanderbilt has made only six of eight all year and Florida has made only nine of 15.
On paper, it appears that the Florida defense should be a mismatch for Vanderbilt, the Gators special teams are better overall, and the Vandy offense is slightly better with a better ability to score touchdowns except for a replacement quarterback.
I expect the Gators to load up the box to stop the run and go after the freshman quarterback when he drops to pass. I think Florida runs for 200 plus yards and wins 24-10.