Three Keys - Vanderbilt at Florida

Jordan Matthews (VM-Stan Jones)

Vanderbilt have made a habit this year of hitting the bye week on the back of conceding fifty plus points. The first time they bounced back in style, knocking off a ranked Georgia team for the first such win under James Franklin. This week they again face a traditional SEC power who are without some of their major parts.

Vanderbilt has made a habit this year of hitting the bye week on the back of conceding fifty plus points. The first time they bounced back in style, knocking off a ranked Georgia team for the first such win under James Franklin. This week they again face a traditional SEC power who is missing some major parts. This, somewhat surprisingly, is a pivotal game for both in terms of bowl implications so it should be a great matchup.

Here are the three keys to victory.

1) Jordan Matthews has to win his battles

Matthews is leading the SEC in receiving with 66 catches on the season. He has taken those catches for 890 yards and five touchdowns. Yet it still feels like he is due a big game on the big stage. It will, however, be a case of strength on strength in this matchup as the Florida defense has been nasty this year and they rank second in the league in pass defense (183.1 ypg) and total defense (290.8 ypg). What we will likely see is a combination of the best the Gators have at cornerback, Vernon Hargreaves and Loucheiz Purify specifically, to play bump and run at the line and try to stop Matthews by disrupting the timing. Bottom line is that Matthews is good enough to beat the Florida defensive backs and that he will have to have a big game in terms of receptions and yards for the 'Dores to spring an upset.

2) Keep Florida rushing below average

The Gators were pretty much the only team in the SEC last year who were committed to running the ball, and why not as they had the quarterback and running back to do so. This year however is a different story with Jeff Driskel lost for the season with a leg injury and Mike Gillislee now with the Miami Dophins. On the season the Gators are averaging just 3.7 yards per rushing attempt which is good for 97h in the country. To put that in perspective Oregon is at almost seven yards an attempt (before Stanford). If Vandy can shut down the Florida run game and hold them at or below the average then Gators will have to win through the air, and the edge in that battle goes to the 'Dores.

3) Be the hungrier team

To say there is a lot on the line in this one is a massive understatement. Will Muschamp might be fighting for his job, while James Franklin needs to prove that this Vandy team is still growing under his leadership. With games against South Carolina and Florida State yet to come there is every chance that Florida will need to win this one to even get to 6-6 at the end of the season and be bowl eligible. If Vandy can spring the upset then Florida will have a losing record for the first time since 1989, or before most of the roster was even born.

Vandy needs to come out early with far more intensity than they have at times this year. Slow starts have been a huge problem and they simply cannot let Florida get rolling on their way to multiple first quarter touchdowns. The defense needs to be active on the front and back ends to keep the Gators off balance and there can be no big first quarter momentum swings in the Gators favor. If all that can be achieved, and the game is played tight, then Vandy will have a shot at the upset late.

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