NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Members of Vanderbilts’ marching band speckled the stands behind the Florida bench at FirstBank Stadium with followers clad in orange and blue surrounding them.
And with roughly 10 minutes left within the third quarter on Saturday afternoon, the small group started to sway backwards and forwards, taking part in Steam’s Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye, a lot to the delight of the sparse Vanderbilt fandom in attendance.
On the time, it seemed like a untimely celebration of affordable success: The Commodores led 14-12 and although the Gators had simply failed a 2-point conversion that may have tied the sport, there was ample time for Florida, which was a double-digit betting favourite coming into play, to mount a comeback.
However that by no means materialized. Vanderbilt cruised to a stunning 31-24 victory, beating the Gators in Nashville for the primary time over 4 many years and incomes their simply their second SEC victory within the final three seasons.
Florida was typically its personal worst enemy on Saturday afternoon, negating optimistic performs with penalties and feeding their opponent bonus yardage whereas succumbing to the struggles that plagued it earlier on within the season.
The Gator protection was picked aside on third downs, surrendering seven conversions on 13 makes an attempt whereas failing to make fundamental tackles on a number of events, which resulted in chunk yardage for Vanderbilt.
Florida’s move protection was insufficient all through the competition, too, as Vanderbilt managed to finish 63 proportion of its passes for 3 touchdowns with one interception.
The Commodores additionally added 175 speeding yards on 46 carries.
It was Florida’s worst defensive efficiency in a number of weeks, snapping a seven-quarter defensive scoreless streak regardless of dealing with an opponent many individuals thought was significantly outmatched by the Gators.
Florida’s offense seemed out of kinds, too.
The group was unable to attain a landing within the first half as its speeding assault was stymied by a Vanderbilt protection that ranked among the many worst within the nation towards the run coming into play.
The Gators accrued a measly 17 speeding yards earlier than the intermission and completed the competition with simply 45 yards, their lowest whole of the season.
And whereas Florida’s passing assault was markedly simpler than its efforts on the bottom, it nonetheless lacked precision at crucial moments each from quarterback Anthony Richardson, who missed alternatives to advance the ball, together with a late-fourth quarter move on fourth-and-four from the Florida 12 to maintain his staff’s hopes alive.
Florida receivers had been additionally subpar all through the sport, dropping straightforward passes and costing the staff important yardage. A deflected move within the third quarter after a busted play additionally led to a Vanderbilt interception.
Maybe the most important disappointment of the day Florida got here on particular staff’s, although, the place a symphony of disasters contributed to the Gators’ defeat.
Vanderbilt’s second rating of the sport got here on a muffed punt by Florida cornerback Jason Marshall across the five-yard line, which proved to be the distinction within the recreation. Redshirt freshman kicker Adam Mihalek additionally missed the point-after following his staff’s final landing of the sport.
Shades of final yr’s Florida staff additionally reared their head because the Gators had been penalized seven occasions for 80 yards.
It’s a demoralizing loss for Florida, which appeared to show a nook three weeks in the past with a number of robust practices and resounding wins over Texas A&M and South Carolina as well.
Florida head coach Billy Napier stated it was the results of his staff’s quickly enhancing tradition and stronger management from gamers and coaches.
After Saturday’s disastrous efficiency, although, it’s clear the Gators nonetheless have a really lengthy option to go.