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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – All the Florida Gators need to avoid a letdown coming off their big win over rival Georgia is simply thinking back to what Vanderbilt did to them a year ago.
In the Swamp no less.
Florida center Max Garcia says Vanderbilt completely embarrassed the Gators last year. Vanderbilt thumped the Gators 34-17 for the Commodores' first win in Gainesville since 1945.
"We're going to go to their house, and we want them to experience the same disappointment they gave to us last year," Garcia said. "We have to redeem ourselves in that way. We're going out there to play football. We're going to out there and it doesn't matter who we're playing against, but it is an added knowing they embarrassed us last year in The Swamp."
The Gators (4-3, 3-3) suddenly have hopes of sneaking into the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division title with some help after routing Georgia 38-20 last week. They ran for 418 yards against Georgia for a win that Garcia says showed the Gators they can compete with anyone, a much-needed confidence boost for a program that had lost three of four with coach Will Muschamp's job on the line.
"We're not worried about disappointing anyone," Garcia said. "We're going to go out there with complete confidence because ... we're all we have to play for, for each other. And we're not going to let each other down."
Vanderbilt's win in the Swamp was very rare in a series that Florida has dominated winning the previous 22 games. The Gators still lead 35-10-2 all-time and haven't lost in Nashville since 1988. Last year's win was part of an historical season for the Commodores as they also beat Georgia in 2013, sweeping the traditional SEC East powers for the first time in school history.
The Commodores have changed since going 9-4 and being ranked in the Top 25 at the end of the season.
Now Vanderbilt (3-6, 0-5) is playing more freshmen combined than any other program in the country with more first-time starters than any other team in the Football Bowl Subdivision. They have won two of their last three games under first-year coach Derek Mason and have a 10-game winning streak in November on the line Saturday night.
Mason said Tuesday he hasn't even flicked on that game in preparation for the Gators. He notes Vanderbilt doesn't have wide receiver Jordan Matthews, now in the NFL with Philadelphia. Mason also doesn't believe motivation from a game played a year ago lasts long after kickoff either.
"All those things last all about four or five seconds," Mason said. "Someone hits somebody in the mouth, and you start playing football. We're going to be about where we are now."
The Gators needed a win that was their first over a Top 10 team since beating Florida State at the end of the 2012 regular season. Muschamp says that win should breed some confidence in what the Gators are trying to do.
"We don't have anything to be overconfident about," Muschamp said. "I think that one of the things you talk to your players about is how you respond after a loss and how do you respond after a win. We need to form some consistency in what we're doing. The work ethic of this football team I think will be, they'll respond the right way."
The Commodores are coming off their biggest win this season with Johnny McCrary matching a school record by throwing five touchdown passes to beat Old Dominion 42-28.
Vanderbilt linebacker Stephen Weatherly called last year's win very satisfying, especially in his first trip to the Swamp. However the Gators motivate themselves to play Vanderbilt is fine with the linebacker.
"We also are motivated to win this game, first SEC win," Weatherly said.
AP Sports Writer Mark Long contributed to this report.
AP college football website: http://collegefootball.ap.org/
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