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2011 Florida Gators Football: The Vanderbilt Game Could Determine UF's Bowl Fate

GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 10: Ronald Powell #7 of the Florida Gators lines up during a game against the UAB Blazers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 10, 2011 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
John PattonContributor ISeptember 14, 2016

When Florida was 4-0 and ranked 12th in the nation, the thought that the Gators would drop four straight games was almost unfathomable.

Looking ahead at Florida's schedule, the Gators could presumably be the underdog in two of their final four contests.

They are favored by double figures this weekend against visiting Vanderbilt, but games at South Carolina (Nov. 12) and in The Swamp against arch rival Florida State (Nov. 26) might see UF as underdogs.

The Gators' fourth game is against Furman, an FCS (formerly Division I-AA) program.





Florida does have a shot at the postseason, and it starts this Saturday against the much-improved Commodores (4-4, 1-4).

Vanderbilt has been quite competitive in all of its games outside of a 21-3 loss to Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks on Sept. 24 and a 34-0 loss to powerhouse Alabama on Oct. 8.

The 'Dores came close to beating both Georgia (a 33-28 loss on Oct. 15) and Arkansas (a 31-28 loss last weekend). It isn't unfair to say that James Franklin's team should have won both of those games.

Their hard-hitting defense is one of the five or six best in the SEC (ask the Razorbacks' splendid quarterback Tyler Wilson, who was hit throughout the afternoon, including a pair of sacks by VU tough-guy defensive end Tim Fugger).

Vandy is also is tied with Rutgers for fourth nationally with 15 interceptions this season. Commodores senior defensive back Casey Hayward has as many picks by himself (five) as the Gators have as a team (though UF sophomore linebacker Jelani Jenkins might have that many dropped picks in 2011).

Florida hasn't lost to Vanderbilt since 1988. But that was the last year in which UF lost four straight games.

I think the Gators understand the gravity of their situation and will defeat the Commodores. As for South Carolina and FSU...I'm not quite ready to make predictions (though I'm not conceding defeat for UF).

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