Vanderbilt 34, Florida 17: Would missing a bowl get Muschamp fired?

By Chip Patterson | Staff Writer

Florida needs to win 2 of its final 3 games to avoid missing a bowl. (USATSI)
Florida needs to win 2 of its final 3 games to avoid missing a bowl. (USATSI)

Florida suffered its fourth straight loss on Saturday, falling 34-17 to Vanderbilt in the Commodores first victory in Gainesville since 1945.

The Gators have been decimated by injuries on both sides of the ball, losing starting offensive tackle Tyler Moore (scooter accident) for the season earlier this week. But even with the injury woes, is missing a bowl game something that the Florida fans could stomach? If not, there could be a movement to fire Will Muschamp.

Muschamp has done a fantastic job recruiting and building a defense that, when healthy, can be one of the best in the country. The offense has been a totally different story. It hurt losing starting quarterback Jeff Driskel, but at this point in the season, seven weeks after the quarterback's season-ending injury, the ineffectiveness of the offense can no longer be blamed on injuries alone.

But Saturday's loss to Vanderbilt, which also ended a 22-game winning streak for the Gators in the series, featured mistakes in all phases of the game. With a few boos from the crowd and several camera shots of a nearly-empty Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in the fourth quarter, the loss was a bad look for Will Muschamp's program.

Florida has not had a losing season since 1979, and to finish 6-6 the Gators will now need to win two of their final three games: at South Carolina, Georgia Southern, and the regular-season finale against Florida State. If the Gators fall to the Gamecocks next week, that sets up for an extremely ill-timed meeting against the Seminoles. Florida State has been crushing every opponent on the schedule (including a 59-3 road victory at Wake Forest on Saturday) and will have no mercy after the Gators scored 24 fourth quarter points to win 37-26 in Tallahassee a year ago.

Big losses to a rival school can be a coach killer, particularly if the result is the worst finish in nearly a quarter century. Will Muschamp was not on any kind of hot seat heading into the season, but things have heated up rapidly in recent weeks and the third-year coach needs a win at South Carolina to cool things down.

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