The Florida Gators look to avoid a trap game on the road against the pesky Vanderbilt Commodores, who hosted another top-ranked SEC foe in South Carolina and gave them all they could handle to open the season.
Speaking of the Gamecocks, this Florida team has to travel back to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium to host them and No. 14 Georgia in back-to-back weeks.
That will make this meeting with Vanderbilt vital. The Commodores fought the Gators hard in 2011, before ultimately falling short by a score of 26-21. It should be similarly difficult to scrounge out a victory this time around, especially away from The Swamp.
Here is the information you need to know ahead of Saturday's SEC showdown, complete with viewing information, betting lines, keys to the game and a final score prediction.
Where: Vanderbilt Stadium at Dudley Field, Nashville, TN
When: 6:00 p.m. ET. October 13, 2012
Listen: Florida: GatorVision
Vanderbilt: WLAC-AM - 510
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Betting Line (via OddsShark): Florida -7
Florida Injury Report
OL Matt Patchan (questionable)—The redshirt junior remains questionable for the Vanderbilt game. He had designs on starting at right tackle, but has yet to play a snap due to a pectoral injury sustained prior to the season.
Vanderbilt Injury Report
No injuries to report.
(Note: Injury information courtesy of USA TODAY)
BCS/Top-25 Poll Implications
Vanderbilt isn't going to even warrant consideration from the BCS or Top 25 with a victory, but the Gators have everything to lose. A slip-up here would mean a free fall in the AP poll, and it would be a killer defeat to rally back from ahead of their crucial road test at South Carolina.
The pressure and ramifications for this perceived mismatch are going to be placed on one team, and it will be interesting to see how Florida responds to increased expectations. They are in unexpected territory as national title contenders.
What They're Saying
Christian D'Andrea of The Commodore Review notes how well the defense has been playing, and also threw in a staggering stat about how the offense's top targets came to life against Missouri:
[Jordan] Matthews and [Chris] Boyd combined for 174 yards this weekend - 59 percent of Vanderbilt's total offensive performance.
Those two will have to step up in a big way, because Florida is not giving an inch through the air. Matthews is 6'3", 205 pounds, and Boyd is an inch taller, averaging over 20 yards per catch.
Gatorsports.com staff writer Robbie Andreu discusses how the team is dealing with success, and reports that head coach Will Muschamp isn't too concerned about a potential letdown. In the coach's own words:
I think our guys have worked hard and I don't see a whole lot of difference in how they approach every day and how they have approached each game so far this year.
Florida Player to Watch
Senior running back Mike Gillislee will be the driving force behind the Gator offense. Establishing a running game with him will lead to opportunities for Jeff Driskel to throw it. That formula has worked well for Florida thus far, but Vandy's vulnerability has been in the secondary if anywhere.
Vanderbilt Player to Watch
Jordan Rodgers will encounter a Florida defense that has befuddled opposing quarterbacks all season, even the likes of Tennessee Volunteer Tyler Bray, who's a heralded NFL prospect. The modest numbers to date by Rodgers are partially a product of his surrounding talent, but he is also generally inaccurate with the football because of his tendency to wilt in the face of the pass rush.
As was touched on earlier, the outcome of this game will hing on the ability of sizable Vanderbilt receivers Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd to make plays on the outside.
Jaylen Watkins and Marcus Robinson will have their work cut out for them, but free safety Josh Evans is the lone senior in the starting Gators secondary. Also, strong safety Matt Elam will punish any Commodore who dares to come over the middle of the field.
Was Florida's jump from No. 10 to No. 4 in the rankings warranted? Are the Gators overhyped because of the tendency toward SEC bias? They can put many of those concerns to rest and prove they are an elite team by emphatically putting down an inferior opponent on the road.
However, if Vandy pulls the upset, the discussion will likely shift to the depth of the country's most powerful conference. That certainly won't put to rest any alleged SEC bias.
Florida 17, Vanderbilt 9