JOE BIDDLE: Vanderbilt feasts on Gator meat in the Swamp - WKRN News 2

JOE BIDDLE: Vanderbilt feasts on Gator meat in the Swamp


Since former Heisman Trophy winner Steve Spurrier came back to his alma mater to coach Florida to its first-ever SEC conference title as well as its first national championship, Gator fans have had a lot of fun at the expense of visiting fans.

Vanderbilt turned the tables on the Gators Saturday when they drained the Swamp and its inhabitants, by doubling down on Florida, 34-17.

It marked the first time the Commodores have won at Florida since 1945 and the first time Vanderbilt beat the Gators after suffering through 22 consecutive losses. Oh, did I mention it was Homecoming?

This one was never in doubt. Vanderbilt kicked a field goal on its first drive, an omen this trip would be rewarding.

Granted, Florida's team is not the one that won 11 games a year ago. It is in dire need of two wins out of the final three games to continue its streak of going to a post-season bowl. The loss to Vanderbilt made it four in a row for the grumpy Gators.

Their own fans turned on them, raining boos down from the stands after they scored their first touchdown and emptying the joint early in the final quarter. There would be no miracles for the Gators Saturday.

Florida Coach Will Muschamp was growling the loudest.

"I'm very critical of myself and what I need to do to be better, and I don't need to hear any fan from the outside telling me what we need to do with this football team.'' Muschamp said in a confrontational tone.

Muschamp is on a short rope and many of the disgruntled fans have turned on him and his unimagative offense

This day belonged to the Commodores, a 5-4 team that needs one more victory in the final three games to make an unprecedented third straight postseason bowl appearance. The more wins they get down the stretch, the more prestigious their bowl invitation will be.

Vanderbilt Coach James Franklin continues to prove why he has emerged as one of the hottest young head coaches in the game. He may be outmanned in some games, but he has never failed to have his team prepared to play and to leave every ounce of effort and desire on the field.

"For three years, we've gotten better as the year goes on, both individually and collectively,'' Franklin said on his post game radio interview.

It was a game in which at one point Vanderbilt had only 69 yards total offense, yet led by 21 points.

It was due in large part by four Gator turnovers, including three interceptions by quarterback Tyler Murphy. All three interceptions led to Vanderbilt touchdowns. The Gators also lost a fumble. On the other hand, Vanderbilt played errorless football.

It's how they were outgained by a 344-183 yard margin, yet cruised to its fifth victory with three games remaining. They have Kentucky, Tennessee and Wake Forest to pad their resume. Win out and they would equal last regular season's total with a quarterback making only his second start of his career Saturday in Patton Robinette. There was also a highly publicized alleged rape case of a 21-year-old Vanderbilt coed that involved four players and had to affect the team to some degree.

Franklin never wavered, nor would he allow his players to make excuses.

Now they have the sweetest win in oh, so many years. 

"The story of the game was turnovers,'' Franklin said. "Our defense was able to get turnovers. If you look at it statistically, it doesn't make a lot of sense. But because of the turnovers … our offense was in short field a lot of times and that was the difference of the game.''

Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at 

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