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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 9, 12 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (88,548) -- Gainesville, Florida. Television: ESPN U or FSN. Home Record: Vanderbilt 3-2, Florida 3-0. Away Record: Vanderbilt 1-2, Florida 1-3. Neutral Record: Vanderbilt 0-0, Florida 0-1. Conference Record: Vanderbilt 1-4, Florida 0-0. Series Record: Florida leads, 35-9-2.
GAME NOTES: Following a tumultuous road trip, the Florida Gators return home for the first time in more than a month to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores in SEC action from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
Vanderbilt is mired in mediocrity at 4-4, and only one of those wins has come in SEC play -- an Oct. 19 home victory over Georgia (31-27). The Commodores' latest contest took place on the road at nationally-ranked Texas A&M, where they slipped to 1-4 in conference with a 56-24 setback.
One of the favorites in the SEC Eastern Division at the start of the season, Florida has fallen hard this season, as it sits at 4-4 overall and 3-3 in league play. The Gators lost to LSU (17-6) and Missouri (36-17) on the road, and fell to Georgia on a neutral field last weekend (23-20) for their third three-game losing streak in three seasons under Will Muschamp. The good news for UF is it has yet to lose at home this season (3-0).
Florida has dominated the all-time series with Vanderbilt, 35-9-2. It has been especially one-sided in Gainesville, with the Gators going 19-1-1.
The Vanderbilt offense, not typically known for its explosiveness, is in the midst of a strong season as it averages 402.0 ypg, and at 32.1 ppg, the team is on pace for its highest-scoring campaign since World War II.
The unit was derailed somewhat a few weeks back however, when quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels (.655, 1,675 yards, 15 TDs, seven INTs) went down with an ankle injury. In his first career start against Texas A&M, freshman Patton Robinette completed 15-of-28 passes for 216 yards with two touchdowns (one rushing) and two interceptions.
Luckily, the young signal caller has one of the nation's best receivers to bail him out. Jordan Matthews ranks first in the SEC in receptions (66) and third in yards (890) while scoring five touchdowns, and he recently became the conference's all-time leader in receiving yards with 3,107. Jonathan Krause is questionable for this clash with a leg injury, but when healthy he is able to take advantage of plenty of one-on-one opportunities opposite Matthews and has responded with 32 receptions, 608 yards and three scores.
Jerron Seymour is the most utilized running back with 94 carries for 479 yards, and his nine rushing touchdowns are tied for sixth-most in the league.
The Commodores' biggest problem this season has been the inconsistent play of their defense. A year after boasting one of the best units in the SEC (18.7 ppg), Vandy has regressed all the way to 30.2 ppg.
Kenny Ladler is the team's top defensive playmaker, tallying 68 tackles, four forced fumbles and two interceptions. Kyle Woestmann (4.5 sacks) and Caleb Azubike (7.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks) anchor the defensive line, and while Andre Hal hasn't recorded a pick, he's still active in the secondary with 10 passes defended.
Florida's offense has been decimated by injuries this season, but that is still no excuse for it ranking 13th in the SEC in scoring (21.0 ppg) and last in yardage (334.6 ypg).
After Jeff Driskel went down for the season with a broken fibula, Tyler Murphy (.590, 911 yards, eight TDs, two INTs) took over as the starting quarterback, but he has played poorly in recent weeks. In the last three games, all losses, Murphy has completed less than 51 percent of his passes and has accounted for only one touchdown.
Running back Matt Jones (339 yards, two TDs) was also lost for the season, meaning the majority of the backfield work now goes to Mack Brown (400 yards, four TDs), who averages just 3.7 yards per carry.
At receiver, Solomon Patton (464 yards, four TDs), Trey Burton (347 yards, TD) and Quinton Dunbar (392 yards) are all in the midst of decent campaigns, despite the lackluster quarterback play of late.
The Gators' saving grace this season has been the outstanding play of its defense, which ranks 10th in the nation in points allowed (17.0 ppg) and eighth in yardage surrendered (290.8 ypg).
Antonio Morrison has a team-high 46 tackles. Dante Fowler, Jr. has made a splash in his sophomore season with 8.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Loucheiz Purifoy is one of the best cover corners in the nation and has racked up two sacks, a pick, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, a blocked kick and a safety.
Although Florida is still in position to qualify for a bowl game, for a program of its caliber, this is a lost season. Morale in the locker room surely isn't great right now, but against a shaky Vanderbilt squad without its starting quarterback, the Gators should be able to get back on track in their return home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Florida 24, Vanderbilt 14
11/06 10:49:49 ET