Florida vs. Vanderbilt: Prediction, pick, line, odds, live stream, watch online, TV channel, game preview

By Adam Silverstein
September 29, 2017
Florida vs. Vanderbilt: Prediction, pick, line, odds, live stream, watch online, TV channel, game preview

The No. 21 Florida Gators enter Saturday afternoon’s showdown with the Vanderbilt Commodores feeling disrespected. They have to feel that way, right? How else do you explain a team that has dominated an opponent over the last few decades being questioned despite going against that team in its home stadium?

Here’s what you need to know and how you can watch Florida-Vanderbilt.

Viewing information

Date: Saturday, Sept. 30 | Time: 12 p.m. ET
Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 88,548]

TV: ESPN (Dave Pasch, Greg McElroy, Tom Luginbill)
Live stream: WatchESPN.com | Watch ESPN apps
SiriusXM: 138, 191 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

Tale of the tape

No. 21 Florida Gators Vanderbilt Commodores
Head Coach Jim McElwain Derek Mason
Record 2-1 (2-0 SEC) 3-1 (0-1 SEC)
Conference Southeastern Southeastern

Four things to know

1. Luke, he is your starter: After three games, the Feleipe Franks experiment is — at the very least — on hold. The redshirt freshman starting quarterback was benched last week and will remain there on Saturday as redshirt junior Luke Del Rio returns to the helm of the Florida offense. Del Rio did start his Gators career 5-0 a year ago, and McElwain has praised his quarterback’s “competitive spirit” as well as his experience. “The thing I always liked about him is, when you talked about the swagger — the study the preparation, which creates the legitimate swagger — some guys think they have swagger, but they haven’t put in the work,” the coach said. “He actually has put in the work. His teammates respect that and obviously they’re ready to go with it.”

2. Does Florida have the playmakers to unsettle Vandy? While it will be up to Del Rio to lead the offense, the Gators will run into the nation’s best defenses on Saturday. Yes, the ‘Dores are a unit that got shutout 59-0 a week ago, but before that they had been playing quite well – certainly better than Florida’s defense. Vanderbilt is an extremely disciplined team, and McElwain this week pointed to its “gap control, eye discipline and the way they disguise” secondary schemes. It is also a sound and physical unit, which UF must get off-balance with its playmakers. Freshmen running back Malik Davis and wide receiver Kadarius Toney will be counted on to do just that.

3. Will felony charges affect the team? If nine players are going to be suspended, better off if they are gone from Week 1 onward. That’s the case McElwain is making when it comes to his team’s mindset coming off a week in which nine players learned they were facing a combined 62 third-degree felony charges. Though the team is used to the players not being there, these are still their friends and there is undoubtedly some angst running through the locker room. The Gators must continue to overcome that. “For the most part, our guys have done a pretty darn good job of that,” McElwain said.

4. Defense must step up, deal with early kickoff: Considering the shape of Florida’s offense – which McElwain believes is improving – defense will once again be relied upon Saturday. The problem? This may be the worst Gators’ defense in decades. Yes, Florida has not had the opportunity to pad its stats by playing cupcakes, but it is now three games into the season and ranked 82nd nationally in total defense (405 yards per game) and 77th in scoring defense (26.7 points per game). That’s not good. Also not good is the fact that Saturday’s game is a noon kickoff in The Swamp. The Gators absolutely cannot afford to begin the game sluggish defensively and get into a hole when the offense is incapable of bailing it out.

Prediction and analysis

Spread: Florida -9 | O/U: 40.5

According to this site, Florida is favored by nine over Vanderbilt, a line that may be exaggerated after the Commodores got roasted by the Crimson Tide last week. Though the Gators needed late scores to beat their last two opponents in Tennessee and Kentucky, the ‘Dores were devastated 59-0 by the Tide a week ago. That Alabama loss came just one week after Vanderbilt edged Kansas State 14-7 in a hard-fought defensive battle.

That makes the Florida-Vanderbilt game on Saturday a tough one to pick. Though one would see a nine-point spread and assume it is inflated by 2-3 points, I actually think it’s around the right number. The Gators’ defense is no good, but the Commodores are overrated. Florida’s offense should find a better rhythm with Del Rio at the helm and be able to move the ball more efficiently.

If UF can get some of its tackling issues shored up ahead of the game, it should win rather easily. Forget that the last two games between the teams have been decided by a combined nine points — both Florida wins. The Gators have a history of taking it to the Commodores when frustrated, and I expect something a bit more like that 31-17 game in 2012, which would be a cover and an over.

2017 records: ATS picks 1-2 | O/U picks 3-0

Injuries and absences

Suspended (9): WR Antonio Callaway, RB Jordan Scarlett, DL Keivonnis Davis, DL Richerd Desir-Jones, DL Jordan Smith, WR Rick Wells, LB James Houston IV, LB Ventrell Miller, OL Kadeem Telfort

Probable (3): LB Kylan Johnson (hamstring), DL Khairi Clark (undisclosed), DL Elijah Conliffe (undisclosed)
Questionable (1): OL Kavaris Harkless (shin)
Out (2): WR James Robinson (heart), DB Marcell Harris (Achilles – season)

Game notes

» Florida is 38-10-2 all-time against Vanderbilt with a 20-2-1 mark when playing in Gainesville.
» UF had won 22 straight games against VU from 1989 to 2012 before falling to their SEC East rivals in 2013. The Gators have won three straight games in the series, however.
» Florida is 44-6 in the month of September since 2005.
» With their victory last Saturday, the Gators have now won 28 straight home openers. McElwain is 12-1 at home after a 5-0 campaign in The Swamp last season.

» Florida is 214-11 since 1990 when an opponent scores 21 points or fewer in a contest, including 19-0 under McElwain.
» Also under McElwain, the Gators are 17-1 against unranked opponents and 4-7 against ranked opponents. UF is 15-0 when outrushing an opponent, 17-4 when scoring first, 16-2 when leading at half and 10-1 when winning the turnover battle.
» Florida owns the nation’s longest streak of returning either a kickoff or punt for a touchdown, doing so in 12 consecutive seasons. It has yet to do so in 2017.
» The Gators have the second-most wins in the nation since 1990 (260).
» Florida has scored in 364 straight games, the longest active streak in the nation and second-longest all-time (Michigan). UF can break that record if it does not get shutout through the LSU game.
» McElwain is the first coach in SEC history to play for the conference title in a his first two seasons at the helm of his program.


Florida will wear orange jerseys, white pants and it’s typical orange helmets on Saturday. 

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