Last meeting: Florida 34, Vanderbilt 10 (2014)
All time series: Florida, 36-10-2
Time/TV: 12:00n on ESPN (also streaming on WatchESPN app)
Pregame betting line: Florida, 21.5
Summer analysis and prediction: Florida 51, Vanderbilt 6.
What to watch for: Treon Harris was a bit shaky against Georgia. Though he did have one really nice throw to Antonio Callaway for a touchdown, he also struggled to make some routine throws that any walk-on could make. The key for Harris is consistency. He’s capable of doing great things, and he’s capable of doing some not so great things. Now he faces a Derek Mason-coached defense that many, including myself, underestimated this offseason. What will we see from him?
Florida key to the game: Vandy’s offense possesses one halfway legitimate threat to hurt them in running back Ralph Webb. The task falls on this nasty defense to continue where it left off against Georgia, key in on Webb and shut him down. Harass QB Johnny McCrary in addition to shutting Webb down, and Florida is almost guaranteed to get some gifts out of it.
Vanderbilt key to the game: If Vanderbilt is to have even the slightest semblance of a chance, they’re going to need their defense to not only play the game of its life in terms of yards and points allowed, but they’re going to have to force some turnovers. Linebackers Stephen Weatherly and Zach Cunningham have made some big plays this year, but if there’s ever a time where the Commodores need them to make some more, it’s today. The Commodores’ offense is incapable of producing a long drive, particularly one that ends in the end zone, so they’re going to need their defense to set them up with short fields.
Prediction: Don’t be surprised if the Gators struggle offensively. But they’re in no real danger as long as the defense does its job. All Harris has to do is stay patient, not get too frustrated and try to force things, and Florida will be fine. An ugly game for three quarters turns one sided late as Kelvin Taylor and Jordan Scarlett eventually wear out the Commodores’ defense. Book your tickets to Atlanta, girls and boys. We’re going to the SEC Championship Game. Florida 31, Vanderbilt 6