Florida - Vanderbilt: How the Gators will clinch the SEC East

Michael OleszekAnalyst INovember 6, 2008

Game Preview

Florida (7-1) vs. Vanderbilt (5-3): Florida is rolling right now, and slowly building BCS momentum.

Vanderbilt is on a three game losing skid after starting out undefeated. 

Florida is on a four game tear through the middle of their schedule, which has featured wins over Arkansas, LSU, Kentucky, and the most recent prison yard stomping over Georgia.

Florida is playing as well as any other team in the country right now, and looks to clinch its second SEC Championship appearance under Urban Meyer. The game is on national TV on ESPN2, with a sellout expected in Nashville for the 8 p.m. kickoff.

Vanderbilt has not beaten Florida since 1988, with 17 losses to Florida in between. Florida is undefeated when playing on ESPN2, with the last win coming in 2005 against Vanderbilt.



Florida will win the game if...


They take care of the football.

Vanderbilt lives and dies by the turnover. In order for Vanderbilt to win the game, they have to force turnovers and then capitalize. Vandy has forced 11 fumbles and recovered 5 to go along with 13 interceptions. Florida killed any hope of winning against Ole Miss by turning the ball over repeatedly, and cannot afford to turn the ball over like that on Saturday night.


They are patient on offense

Florida needs to develop a workman-like attitude on offense this week. This will be more so in the passing game. Vandy's secondary is one of the best in the nation, led by D.J. Moore; and will look to shut down any deep passing threats that Florida poses.

Underneath pass routes to slot receivers and tight ends, and a strong inside running game with Emmanuel Moody will bring up the safeties, where then Florida can try deeper routes and also catch the defense off guard with running plays along the perimeter.

The second half is where the talent and the depth chart will begin to payoff for Florida, and Vandy will fold under a barrage of scoring.


Florida will lose the game if...


Vanderbilt catches the Gators by surprise

Vanderbilt did start the season undefeated, and is the best team Bobby Johnson has had in Nashville. That includes the Jay Cutler-Earl Bennett team that gave Florida all it could handle in 2005.

Ole Miss caught Florida asleep at the wheel after a big Florida road win at Tennessee, and shredded the Gator defense with a few big plays from a couple of players.

Vandy boasts little in terms of offensive threats, but WR Sean Walker is coming off of a career day against Duke, accounting for the Commodores’ only Touchdown in a 10-7 loss.

Vandy gave Georgia all it could handle a few weeks ago on the road, and they will have a packed house, blackout crowd on hand to greet the Gators. Vandy is one game away from bowl eligibility and coach Bobby Johnson could be looking at a bigger coaching job after this season. They will be looking to make the most of this opportunity against a top-five opponent.



The X-factor will be…..


Florida Quarterback Tim Tebow

Since the Ole Miss game, and the impassioned speech that followed, Tim Tebow has ignited the Gators into a completely different team, and it shows. When you look at the first four games of this season, the Gators looked sloppy, out-of–sync, and were ultimately beatable.

Now look at them, and the Ole Miss game seems like it was the 2007 Gators instead of the 2008 version. The Gators have developed a ruthlessness that has touched everyone from the coaching staff down to the special teams players. The Gators are running roughshod over people, and it doesn’t look they’re stopping until they reach the BCS.


Final Score Prediction: Florida 41, Vanderbilt 7


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