The Vanderbilt Commodores are one win away from bowl eligibility.
Vanderbilt upset 14-point favorite Florida, 31-24, Saturday at Vanderbilt Stadium for its first win over the Gators in Nashville since 1988, and only its second win over Florida in 32 games. The Commodores beat Florida 34-17 in Gainesville in 2013.
Just last week, Vanderbilt (5-6, 2-5 SEC) broke an 0-26 dryspell in the SEC with a 24-21 at Kentucky. And the Commodores have now won two straight in the SEC for the first time since 2018 when it beat Ole Miss and Tennessee.
Vanderbilt can become bowl eligible with a win over No. 5 Tennessee next week. Florida dropped to 6-5 and 3-5 going into its regular season finale at No. 20 Florida State on Friday. The Commodores last went to a bowl in the 2018 season.
Vanderbilt Coach Clark Lea Predicted Victory … Sort Of
“I told them last week we’re going to do more of these celebrations,” Vanderbilt second-year coach Clark Lea said. “We want to fight for postseason. That’s what we’ll do. Proud of them.”
Lea, a former defensive coordinator at Notre Dame under then-coach Brian Kelly, went 2-10 and 0-8 in the SEC in his first season at Vanderbilt last season.
The Commodores led 14-6 at the half after a 7-yard fumble return for a touchdown by long snapper Wesley Schelling. Quarterback Mike Wright threw two touchdowns in the third quarter for a 28-12 lead, and Vanderbilt held on.
Wright completed 10 of 16 passes for 108 yards and three touchdowns with an interception. Tailback Ray Davis led all rushers with 122 yards on 30 carries for the Commodores.
Commodores Held Off Late Rally By Florida
Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson had much better numbers than Wright, but in a losing cause. He hit 25 of 42 passes for 400 yards and three touchdowns with an interception. Richardson got the Gators within 28-18 early in the fourth quarter on a 74-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Daejon Reynods.
Richardson hit Reynolds again for a 16-yard touchdown to cut Vanderbilt’s lead to 31-24 with 3:13 remaining. Florida reached the Vanderbilt 34-yard line in the final seconds, but a desperation heave by Richardson fell incomplete to end the game.