Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Vanderbilt Commodores at Florida Alligators

This weekend, I am heading down to Gainesville, Florida to see Kat and to watch the Men of the Black-and-Gold take on the Alligators.

Much to my surprise, it seems that my hopes for leaving Gainesville on Sunday with another "W" on the books have increased quite a bit since I first decided to attend this SEC match-up back in August.


The most obvious reason for excitement is that the 'Dores come into the Swamp only a week after Urban Meyer led his team to a 14-10 victory over the mighty Georgia Bulldogs. And, needless to say (yet say it I will), the Commodores are not the Bulldogs.

Though we did play Georgia well, the final score was 17-34, and we did not beat the spread (though for much of the game, it looked as though we might win outright).

The Gators trip to Jacksonville, on the other hand, was no where near as well-played as the Dores' game against UGA in Nashville.

Now compare the excitement and rivalry that was present in last week's CBS SEC Game of the Week with this week's ESPN2 contest at UF.

The Alligators are primed for coming out flat against a team that they probably do not respect.


To be candid, the Orange-and-Blue have good reason to be skeptical of Vanderbilt, considering the two teams' history together.

In the thirty-nine times that the Commodores have played the Alligators, the Officers from Nashville have only come away victorious nine times; there are two ties in the series.

The last time the Commodores pulled off the upset (and the contest has usually been an upset) was in 1988, when this author was a student in kindergarten at fair Rogersville.

The 1988 win, a 24-9 decision, took place in Nashville. When the Dores are on the road against Florida, the situation is even worse: Vanderbilt has only beaten Florida in Gainesville once, in 1945 -- and that was the first time the two schools had ever played one another.

As it usually is when it comes to Southeastern Conference series records in the modern area, Vanderbilt does not want to repeat history.


If the Commodores look back, they won't like what they see -- that is, unless they confine their rearview mirror to recent history.

In what has become a season marked with potential, Vanderbilt has put a few impressive numbers in the books. If the math and science majors on West End want to take those stats out for a spin, doing so against the Swamp-things will probably boost their confidence:

• Total Offense
VU >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 398.9 yds (51st in D-I)
UF >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 388.4 yds (62nd)

• Passing Yards
VU >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 268.9 yds (28th in D-I)
UF >>>>>>>>>>>>> 241 yds (56th)

• Rushing Yards
VU >>>>>>>>>>>> 130 yds (75th in D-I)
UF >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 147.4 yds (59th)

• Points Scored
VU >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 23.3 (83rd in D-I)
UF >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 25.4 (69th)

• Pass Completion
VU >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 56.8% (J. Cutler)
UF >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 60.3% (C. Leak)

• Leading Rushers
VU >>>>>>>>>>>>>> 6.6 yds per carry (C. Jackson-Garrison)
UF >>>>>>>>>> 4.9 yds per carry (Wynn)

• Leading Receivers
VU >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 12.9 yds per comp. (E. Davis)
UF >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 13.3 yds per comp. (Baker)

The statistical parity between these two teams may surprise the casual fan, but those familiar with both the Alligators' woes and the Commodores' improvements should not be surprised.


If the Commodores come to Gainesville pumped up and ready to play, they have a legitimate chance to pull of a major upset of the nation's No. 5 team. A win against Florida would be a major breakthrough for the Vanderbilt program that has struggled for more than twenty years, with no bowl appearance or winning season since 1982 (before this author was born).

Vanderbilt has a tough row to hoe, but they can do it.


Vanderbilt Commodores 37
Florida Alligators 34


At 2:31 AM, Blogger Casey said...

So close! I was clenching my teeth hoping for a Commodore victory.


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