Can the Gators avoid the letdown game against Vanderbilt?

The last few days have been fun. Beating Georgia is, at least to me, the best feeling in the world as a fan short of winning a national/SEC championship. Yes, even better than beating FSU, as sweet as that is, because even if FSU beats us, the all time record is heavily in Florida’s favor- 34-22 right now, to be exact.

But as great as the win feels, it’s not our season. There’s still plenty for this team, and especially for Will Muschamp, to accomplish. Some of those things include making a bowl game (which looks a hell of a lot easier right now than it did a week ago), wrecking FSU’s season and winning as many games as possible for pride. And yes, there is still somehow a chance for Florida to make it to Atlanta.

Anyway, now we have to turn our attention away from Georgia (trust me, we’ll have an entire offseason to bask in the glory), we turn our attention to our next opponent, Vanderbilt.

There’s no doubt that this Vanderbilt team is nowhere close to as “good”, however you want to define that term, as the Vandy teams under James Franklin. Point blank, this team sucks. They lost to Temple- who’s just 3-2 in the American Athletic Conference- by 30 points at home to begin their season. That was their first clue that their 2014 season was in danger of being a failure. Their next clue was getting thumped 41-3 by Ole Miss- also at home- and it all unraveled from there. Vanderbilt has still not won a conference game, and they’re running out of chances to do so.

But the flip side of that is that Vanderbilt has been very competitive since those first two games. Only Georgia really blew them out. Hell, they gave Missouri ten times more of a fight than Florida did, and in Columbia, for that matter. And now, at 3-6 and facing bowl ineligibility straight in the face, here’s betting that they come ready to play on Saturday night.

So Florida can’t come into Nashville expecting to just roll over the Commodores. Yes, they’re just as desperate as Vanderbilt and I expect them to go out and play another solid game. But this is the type of game that Will Muschamp has lost plenty of times before during his time at Florida- the Gators are supposed to win, they need to win and they somehow defy all logic and don’t win. See the Sugar Bowl against Louisville, Miami, Vanderbilt and Georgia Southern last year and Missouri this year if you want more examples. And no, Muschamp doesn’t always lose this sort of game, but I remember the Gators squeaking out wins over Bowling Green, Furman, Louisiana Lafayette and Tennessee this year, too, and those memories aren’t the most reassuring thing considering how bad Vanderbilt is.

We’ll get to the schematics of the game either tomorrow or Friday. For now, though, know that this game is no sure thing, only because it can’t be a sure thing with Muschamp at the helm. I’d love more than anything in the world to be wrong, but I’ve got a sickening feeling we’re in for a letdown after the huge win over Georgia. New starting QB Johnny McCreary is full of confidence after lighting up Old Dominion for five touchdowns last week (…granted, it was Old Dominion) and if Florida’s defense doesn’t show up ready to play, things could get really, really tense.

Can Florida win? Of course they can. But they have to realize this is a new game. It sounds silly, but some of Muschamp’s teams’ worst performances have come after big wins. He is still very much on the hot seat; a loss to Vanderbilt would probably do it for Jeremy Foley. So he’s got to get his team ready to go.

And if he does, and Florida avoids the huge upset, this Gator team could have a “November to Remember.”

12 thoughts on “Can the Gators avoid the letdown game against Vanderbilt?

  1. Spot on, as usual Neal. Vandy is no gimme – not with this team, and definitely not with this coach. I think the players got us the big “W” against arch rival and ranked Georgia, but it’s up to Muschamp to prepare the team for an “inferior” opponent. Like you, I have a sick feeling about Saturday night.

    1. Thanks!

      I will add one thing, though. I have a much better feeling about the team with Treon Harris at QB than I did with Jeff Driskel, for about a million different reasons. So far, Treon has avoided the big mistakes (although running out of bounds for a 12 yard loss against Georgia and not throwing it away was bad. Really bad). Harris is like Advil for that sickening feeling- it somewhat masks it for awhile, but doesn’t totally get rid of it.

  2. Vandy isn’t as bad as their record suggests. Sure they got blown out by Temple who sucks but that was their first game. And OK, Ole Miss destroyed them but the Rebels are a pretty damned good team. I’m totally aware of the fact that this Vanderbilt team is far worse than last year’s, but after Georgia Southern, I will never be 100% certain Florida will win a football game under Will Muschamp. I was about 99% certain we’d beat Eastern Michigan, but not 100%. And thus, like you, I am nervous, because this game is on the road and we may be coming off of Muschamp’s biggest win at Florida.

    1. I don’t think Ole Miss is a bad team by any means, but it’s become clear by now that they’re not the best team in the SEC- maybe third or fourth. To lose 41-3 to anybody on your home field… yes, that qualifies as a bad loss.

      (This is what the comments section is for. To have conversations that may start out on topic, but could go anywhere. That’s the fun!)

      1. Ole Miss has been in every game they’re played in. Their two losses came in Baton Rouge by 3 and to a very good Auburn team at home by 4. No they’re not the best team in the SEC but you can pardon Vanderbilt for a loss like that so early in the season. Point is that we can’t go into Nashville with the attitude of “Well, Ole Miss stomped on the Commies here, so I guess we will too.”

  3. November to Remember sounds like a good plan to me. But you do mean if we go 5-0 in November, and not 4-1, correct?

    1. Oh yeah. We lose one more game and I’m busting out the pitchforks and torches and heading straight for Muschamp’s house. 7-4 OK OK WE GET IT WE DIDN’T GET TO PLAY IDAHO SO REALLY 8-4 HAPPY NOW isn’t good enough after 4-8. I’m sure Neil agrees with me on this, too. I don’t care who we lose to, whether it’s Florida State or Eastern Kentucky.

      1. And heeeeeeeeeere we go with another Muschamp debate on an article that didn’t directly discuss it.

        1. It kind of does, though…

          “He is still very much on the hot seat; a loss to Vanderbilt would probably do it for Jeremy Foley. So he’s got to get his team ready to go.”

          Tell me that does not DIRECTLY discuss Will Muschamp’s future at Florida

          1. I mean, you can’t discuss the implications of an upcoming game without mentioning the fact that Muschamp’s seat is in flames right now, even after the beatdown he laid upon the Dogs.

        2. Every game plays a role in his future; the articles don’t need to specifically mention it because that is where we are.

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