Looking for a feel-good win following last weekend's gut-punch from Georgia, the Florida Gators had plenty of smiles to go around Saturday in the Swamp.
A visit from the woeful Vanderbilt Commodores could not have come at a better time for Dan Mullen's team, a 56-0 winner before an announced crowd of 86,201 on a brisk, brilliant day in Gainesville.
Quarterback Kyle Trask threw for a career-high 363 yards – the most by a UF quarterback since Tim Tebow's final game in the 2010 Sugar Bowl – and the Gators' defense registered its third shutout – the most in a season since 1988 and first against Vanderbilt since 1993.
It added up to the most decisive win by the Gators (8-2, 5-2 SEC) against the Commodores (2-7, 1-5) since a 71-13 UF win during Steve Spurrier's final season as coach in 2001.
The Gators have made a recent habit of letting the Commodores hang around, winning the past four meetings by no more than 14 points. Saturday afternoon in the Swamp was no different, at least for awhile.
But Mullen's slumbering, stumbling offense came alive early in the second half behind Trask and a suffocating defense continued to apply the pressure as the Gators quickly broke open a game.
Leading just 14-0 at intermission despite a 277-to-18 edge in yards, the Gators needed just three plays to set the tone for a blowout win.
On UF's first possession, Trevon Grimes turned a short pass to the sideline into a 66-yard touchdown on first-and-10, using a stiff-arm of a Commodores defender and his blazing speed to complete a career-long play.
Following Vanderbilt's fourth three-and-out possession of the day, Trask completed a 36-yard pass to Tyrie Cleveland, the redshirt junior signal caller stepping up the pocket to avoid an ongoing blitz before delivering the football on the money. Moments later, Trask found tight end Kyle Pitts for a 15-yard touchdown and the Gators earned a 28-0 lead just over three minutes into the second half.
Trask finished the day with three touchdowns passes to offset two first-half interceptions. He has 19 touchdown throws since taking over for injured starter Feleipe Franks. Backup quarterback Emory Jones added three rushing touchdowns.
The Gators' shutout was in jeopardy when the Commodores suddenly generated some offense to reach the UF 9. But on third-and-goal, UF freshman Mohamoud Diabate came flying off the edge and was unblocked, leading to a strip-sack of Vanderbilt's Deuce Wallace and an 80-yard scoop-and-score for Gators' pass rusher Jon Greenard.
Diabate was the day's breakout star, finishing with three sacks. UF safety Donovan Stiner add two interceptions on a day when Vanderbilt managed a season-low 128 yards, compared with 560 for the Gators.
Leading 35-0 following Greenard's first career touchdown, UF continued to pile it on to hand the Commodores their one-sided defeat of the season and raise the specter sixth-year coach Derek Mason's days could be numbered. The loss dropped him to 26-45 at Vanderbilt, including a 10-36 mark in SEC play.
Meanwhile, the Gators kept alive their slim hopes SEC East title hopes and remained in the mix for a New Year's Six bowl bid. UF next will travel to Missouri to face the Tigers at noon Saturday.