In making a prediction for the Florida-Vanderbilt game, maybe I should just go ahead and follow the same scenario that has played out in recent losses for the Gators.
You know how it goes: The defense gets burned early by big plays, the Gators fall behind, and the offense, obviously uncomfortable playing from that position, struggles and Florida finds itself trailing at the half and facing all kinds of pressure. In the end, the Gators can’t overcome the deficit and end up losing.
Certainly, no one will be shocked if it plays out like that Saturday. Even if it is Vanderbilt. Because the Gators have shown that it doesn’t really matter who they’re playing, the games all pretty much look the same.
The biggest downer has been the way opposing offenses have jumped all over the defense and struck for early touchdown drives. My thought on that is that Will Muschamp and his staff are getting outcoached going into games, but then get a handle on things at halftime and adjust. Muschamp and those defensive coaches have to do a better job of anticipating what the offense is going to throw at the Gators in those early, scripted drives. I think they will in this game. I’d like to think they’ve learned that lesson from the past two losses against Missouri and Georgia. (At least I would hope).
I also think being back in The Swamp will give the Gators a lift they really need at this stage. I think the Gators will play with great emotion, come out fast for a change, and take control of the game with an early touchdown that will make everyone (especially the fans) actually relax for a change.
This a huge game for the Gators, one they must have if they hope to become bowl eligible. It’s big for Vandy, too, which has lost 22 in a row to UF and also is looking to get bowl eligible.
I just think this game has more meaning for the Gators, and they are playing at home. It won’t be easy — it never is for this Florida team — but the Gators will prevail and end their three-game SEC losing streak.
Prediction: Florida 16, Vanderbilt 12