1. Archive

GAME 9: FLORIDA 28, VANDERBILT 21 // No. 1 strikes a sour note in Music City

Well, they booed.

Vanderbilt fans showered top-ranked Florida with insults, almost at the invitation of coach Steve Spurrier, though the Gators did not spend the fourth quarter passing into the end zone with their backup quarterback.

They booed in mockery.

They booed a presumptive No. 1 team.

They booed, by the way, the SEC East champion.

Florida, which had won its past five games by no fewer than 35 points, eked out a 28-21 victory at Vanderbilt to earn its fifth straight berth in the SEC Championship Game.

"Sometimes, we can't always win them 50-something to 10," said Spurrier, who incited Vandy fans with midweek comments that he would continue to pass in the fourth quarter of an already decided game if Vanderbilt's fans booed.

"Sometimes, things don't always go your way. Sometimes, that's football. It doesn't go perfectly every day. We got out of here with a victory, somehow, and I feel pretty good about it."

Florida never reached cruising speed with its offense against Vanderbilt's 25th-ranked defense, but the Gators weren't exactly hurting, leading 28-6 midway through the third quarter.

But that's when Vanderbilt, sparked by a defensive touchdown late in the third quarter, spoiled Florida's plans for an easy win and nearly wrecked the Gators' plans for the rest of the season _ a fourth straight SEC championship and another shot at the national title.

"I'm furious," said senior offensive lineman Donnie Young, who watched yet another of his linemates _ tackle Zach Piller _ go down with an injury. "We can play a lot better than we played."

Florida's defense did come up with two fourth-quarter stands, and the offense got the first down it needed to run out the clock when, on fourth and inches at the Vandy 44, a quarterback sneak got just enough.

"It was fun; I enjoyed it," senior safety Lawrence Wright said. "It's a test of character, of how bad we wanted to win."