Nashville , TN - After an emotional win over an archrival in its most anticipated game of the season last week, Florida must avoid a letdown against a team it hasn't lost to in two decades.
That shouldn't be a problem with a trip to the SEC championship game on the line.
The fourth-ranked Gators look to clinch the SEC East Division and defeat Vanderbilt for the 18th straight time when they meet Saturday in Nashville.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Florida -24 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 75% of bets for this game have been placed on Florida -24 (View College Football bet percentages).
Florida (7-1, 5-1) had been looking forward to last week's game against Georgia ever since last season's 42-30 loss to the Bulldogs. The Gators were still angered by Georgia's excessive celebration after its first score in last year's game when the entire team ran onto the field and jumped up and down in unison while celebrating wildly - a move that was uncharacteristically orchestrated by Bulldogs coach Mark Richt.
Florida was able to avenge that loss with an easy 49-10 win in Jacksonville last Saturday. The Gators scored touchdowns on seven of 11 possessions, didn't have a turnover and were up 49-3 when Georgia finally got into the end zone with just over three minutes left in the game.
"It's a weight off our shoulders," Florida safety Ahmad Black said. "All we heard about was Georgia, Georgia, Georgia. We wanted this one for 365 days. We wanted to come back here and play this game and earn some respect for the Gators."
Florida gained some more respect nationally, as its moved up one spot in the AP poll and also jumped from eighth to fifth in the BCS standings. If they win out, the Gators could have a chance of playing for the national championship, but coach Urban Meyer simply wants his team to focus on the Commodores (5-3, 3-2).
"There will be no talk whatsoever about championships," Meyer said. "There will be no talk about anything other than how we prepare for a game."
With a victory over Vanderbilt, Florida will win its first SEC East title since its 2006 national championship season.
"It's a great feeling to be this close," Gators wide receiver Louis Murphy said. "We just have to take care of business in Tennessee and we'll get it done. We're playing just as good as anybody. We could line up with anybody right now. We're competing and playing, and passionate about this game."
Florida has had little trouble against the Commodores, winning 17 straight in the series since a 24-9 loss in Nashville in 1988.
In last season's 49-22 home win, the Gators outgained the Commodores 498-255 in total yards. Tim Tebow completed 22 of 27 passes for 281 yards and three touchdowns and ran for two scores, while Percy Harvin rushed for a game-high 113 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries and caught nine passes for a game-high 110 yards.
The Gators' last three games in Nashville have been tight, as they've won by an average of 9.0 points, but Florida's had no problem putting away opponents lately.
Since their 31-30 loss to Mississippi on Sept. 27, the Gators have won their last four games by an average of 39.5 points.
Led by Tebow, Florida is averaging 54.3 points in its last three games with the reigning Heisman Trophy winner passing for six touchdowns and running for six scores. Tebow was 10-of-13 for 154 yards and two TDs, and ran for a season-high three touchdowns last week.
While the Gators' offense is on a roll, the Commodores' has been in a bit of a funk.
Vanderbilt, which hasn't played since a 10-7 loss to Duke on Oct. 25, is averaging 11.7 points and 214.3 yards in losing its last three games. Against the Blue Devils, the Commodores managed only 96 yards through the first three quarters before gaining 195 in the final period.
Vanderbilt has the third-worst offense in the Football Bowl Subdivision (254.6 yards per game) and faces a Florida defense that is 16th-best (289.0).
It looked like this season would be different for the Commodores, who opened with five straight wins to match the program's best start since 1943 and were ranked 13th in the nation in the Oct. 5 poll, but they've dropped their last three. Vanderbilt, which is trying to put an end to a string of 25 straight losing seasons, needs one more victory to become bowl eligible for the first time since 1982.
After this game, the Commodores visit Kentucky, host Tennessee and wrap up their regular season at Wake Forest.
"We have four games left," linebacker Chris Marve said. "We have to go hard, full speed in each of them. We need to focus on one game at a time and not look ahead."
Top Betting Trends
All games in this series since 1992
VANDERBILT is 9-7 against the spread versus FLORIDA since 1992
FLORIDA is 16-0 straight up against VANDERBILT since 1992
3 of 3 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
VANDERBILT is 1-1 against the spread versus FLORIDA over the last 3 seasons
FLORIDA is 2-0 straight up against VANDERBILT over the last 3 seasons
2 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at VANDERBILT since 1992
VANDERBILT is 4-4 against the spread versus FLORIDA since 1992
FLORIDA is 8-0 straight up against VANDERBILT since 1992
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at VANDERBILT over the last 3 seasons.
VANDERBILT is 1-0 against the spread versus FLORIDA over the last 3 seasons
FLORIDA is 1-0 straight up against VANDERBILT over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
[RB] Emmanuel Moody missed last game, upgraded to probable. - Ankle - 10/2
[TE] Cornelius Ingram is out for the season. - ACL - 08/09/08
[OL] Jim Tartt missed last game, upgraded to probable. - Shoulder - 10/29/
[OL] Jim Barrie expected to miss entire season - ACL - 08/12/08
[DL] Torrey Davis is "?". - Undisclosed - 10/28/08
[DT] John Brown is out indefinitely. - Hand - 09/17/08
[DT] Omar Hunter expected to redshirt - Ankle - 10/11/08
[LB] Brendan Beal is expected to miss entire season - ACL - 08/12/08
[DB] Janoris Jenkins left last game, probable - Shin - 10/26/08
[S] Dorian Munroe expected to miss entire season - ACL - 08/07/08
[WR] John Cole is expected to miss at least 8 weeks. - Knee - 09/02/08
[DT] Derrius Dowell expected to miss entire season - Knee - 08/15/08
[LB] Brandon Bryant is expected to miss the rest of the season. - Leg - 10
[CB] Darlon Spead out indefinitely. - Fibula - 09/08/08
[RB] Jermaine Doster is suspended for 2008-2009 season. - Legal problems -
[WR] Chris Reinert out for season - Leg - 09/07/08
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Posted: 11/04/08 3:12 PM