'Dores hope for strong showing

The memory still stings; last year on the third of November Vanderbilt paid a visit to Gainesville to visit the defending National Champion Florida Gators. The 5-4 Commodores had high hopes of pulling off a huge upset on the road to secure bowl eligibility, however, that wish was quickly dashed by a rude bunch of Gators.

After falling behind 14-0 at the end of the first quarter Vanderbilt's Mackenzi Adams scored on a 1-yard run to pull the 'Dores to within seven. However, Florida responded with 21 second-quarter points to send the Commodores to the locker room down 35-7 at the half.

Florida went on to win 49-22 and piled up 498 yards total offense while limiting Vandy to just 255 yards and the men in Black and Gold finished the season a disappointing 5-7. "Last year we just allowed them too many huge plays against us. It was just out of hands before we could turn it around." said Vanderbilt head coach Bobby Johnson as he looked back on a long day at the office.

This year's Florida squad is deeper and more experienced. The Gators beat a tough Kentucky team 63-5 a couple of weeks ago and last Saturday thrashed their rivals, Georgia, in Jacksonville, 49-10. How does Johnson expect to stay in the game with the Gators who have thrashed virtually all of their opponents this season?

"You do all you can to stay close and have a chance to win in the fourth quarter," said Johnson. The seventh year head coach also mentioned that he doesn't want his team to "help" Florida and specifically mentioned special teams blunders and turnovers as errors that could make for a very long Saturday night for Vanderbilt.

Indeed while Vanderbilt has not beaten the Gators since 1988, they have came close in recent years. In 2005 the Commodores battled Florida on ESPN before falling 49-42 in double overtime. That game featured the infamous celebration call on Earl Bennett at the end of regulation. Then in 2006 in Nashville Vandy again nearly upset the then No. 7 Gators, this time falling 25-19. Chris Nickson passed for almost 300 yards in that game.

While Johnson does not want to be on the bad end of a blowout he believes that the Gators big margins of victory this season will motivate his players to work harder for Florida, "It motivates your guys to get out and learn the game plan and get prepared to play them," said Johnson.

Wouldn't it be something if Saturday was the day that Vanderbilt ended the dreadful string and became bowl eligible? "You never know what's going to happen in a football game," remarked Johnson with a twinkle in his eye. Let's hope there's another curtain call late Saturday night.

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