Saturday night’s game in Nashville, Tenn., was deemed a trap game.
After a slow start, the No. 4 Florida Gators escaped the trap unscathed, running past Vanderbilt 31-17.
Florida (6-0, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) will now prepare for No. 3 South Carolina next week. Vanderbilt, (2-4, 1-3 SEC) is left frustrated again, losing its 22nd straight to the Gators.
Vanderbilt got on the board first, scoring on its second possession.
Following a 41-yard punt by Kyle Christy and a 15-yard kick catching interference penalty on Loucheiz Purifoy, the Commodores began from their own 34-yard line. Two Zac Stacy runs pushed the Commodores to midfield, and Jordan Rodgers took a shot deep, finding Chris Boyd for 37 yards, down to the Florida 14-yard line.
Three plays later, Rodgers found his favorite target, Jordan Matthews, in the back corner of the end zone. Matthews beat Matt Elam for the touchdown, giving Vanderbilt the 7-0 lead with 6:45 left in the first quarter.
After a slow start, the Florida offense came to life on its fourth drive of the game. The offense methodically worked its way into Vanderbilt territory before Jeff Driskel took off 37 yards down the sideline for his second rushing touchdown of the season.
Driskel’s fake to Gillislee opened the entire left side of the field and capped a 91-yard drive, Florida’s longest of the season. On the ensuing extra point, the Gators faked again. This time, Trey Burton took the snap and rushed into the end zone to give Florida the 8-7 lead.
The Gators extended their lead to 11-7 with 10 seconds remaining in the first half as Caleb Sturgis connected on a 23-yard field goal.
Stugis’ field goal capped another long drive, as the offense began the drive from its own 12-yard line. Again, Driskel’s feet helped move the chains.
He rushed for 36 yards on the drive, picking up two first downs with long runs. The drive stalled deep in Vanderbilt territory when Driskel failed to hit Kent Taylor in the end zone on second down and Omarius Hines with a swing pass on third down.
Driskel finished the first half with 92 yards rushing on seven carries. He also passed for 77 yards on 10-for-17 passing.
Rodgers finished the first half 5 for 10 for 66 yards passing and the one touchdown to Matthews.
Stacy appeared to have a 66-yard touchdown run during Vanderbilt’s first possession of the second half, but Matthews was called for holding on Purifoy, bringing the play back.
Matthews redeemed himself later in the drive, catching a third down pass for 15 yards to keep the drive alive. However, a Josh Evans sack on Rodgers forced Vanderbilt into a 44-yard field goal attempt, which was blocked by Sharrif Floyd.
Special teams came through again on Florida’s next drive. What appeared to be a three-and-out became first-and-goal for the Gators after Solomon Patton took the snap on a fake punt and ran 54 yards to the Vanderbilt 3-yard line.
Following a holding penalty on Frankie Hammond Jr., Driskel ran for his second touchdown of the game to give Florida a 18-7 lead with 4:31 left in the third quarter.
Sturgis tacked on three more points, making a 28-yard field goal to give the Gators a 21-7 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Gators were given great starting field position on the drive when Jon Bostic sacked Rodgers, who fumbled. Neiron Ball recovered the fumble, giving Florida the short field.
Florida’s fourth-quarter shutout streak was snapped with 8:57 remaining. Stacy plunged in from a yard out, capping an 11-play, 75-yard drive that took more than four minutes.
The Gators appeared to have ended the drive with a De’Ante Saunders interception, but Purifoy was called for holding away from the play. With new life, Vanderbilt moved within seven, cutting Florida’s lead to 21-14.
Andre Debose gave Florida strong starting field position with a return to the Vanderbilt 37-yard line. However, the Gators were able to get just three, as their offense again stalled out in the red zone.
Another field goal by Sturgis, this time a 26–yarder, gave the Gators a 24-14 lead with 5:22 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Still, Vanderbilt would not go away.
Rodgers hit Matthews with a 53-yard pass on the first play of the next drive to move the Commodores to the Florida 22-yard line. But on third down, Vanderbilt watched a touchdown bounce off the hands of Stacy in the end zone, forcing Vanderbilt to settle for a field goal to make it 24-17.
After the score, Vanderbilt decided to kick it deep, giving Florida possession with 2:31 left in the fourth quarter.
Bad move. On the next play, Driskel seared through the line, running for 70 yards and his third touchdown of the game.
The gain gave Driskel 177 yards rushing on the night, a career-high and program record. The previous single-game high for a UF quarterback was 166 yards by Tim Tebow against Ole Miss in 2007.
Having fought throughout the game, Vanderbilt moved the ball down the field again. However, the Commodores came up short on fourth down, effectively ending the game.