Florida and Vanderbilt are football teams that have arguably peaked at the same time.
For Florida, that has come in the form of six quarters of mostly dominant football in which the Gators outscored Texas A&M and South Carolina by a combined 59-6 count. For Vanderbilt, it was a win over Kentucky that ended a streak of futility in SEC play and may have engendered a little toughness in a program often pushed around.
What happens on this Saturday probably settles the argument about which team is actually playing its best ball of 2022 — or if either one is.
If that’s Florida, its ability to control a game with its potent, deep rushing offense — one that has averaged over 330 rushing yards over the last two games — is probably going to be on display. The disparity in size and skill will be there against a Vanderbilt defense that lacks big-time, big-bodied playmakers up front, and while the Gators should be able to take advantage of that, Anthony Richardson should also be able to do a lot of good things against a Commodores secondary that is among the nation’s worst in almost every relevant statistical category.
But if it’s Vandy? Florida will probably do the sort of sleepwalking in a cold game on the road that it has done several times in recent memory, and squander perceived advantages on offense while giving up big plays on defense. And the Commodores, who have taken down Florida once in my life, might show some of the unusual — especially for Vandy — resolve that helped them stay in the game against Kentucky for long enough that Mike Wright could eventually rescue them with his legs.
I think the former is a lot more likely than the latter, as I really do think Florida has turned a corner. But I’ve said that and been wrong enough to be worried I’m wrong again today. Here’s hoping I — and we — don’t have to worry for long.