One of top match ups in the SEC this weekend features a rivalry that has been rejuvenated with the return to prominence of the 18th ranked Florida Gators (2-0) under second year head coach Will Muschamp and travel to Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, TN to take on the 23rd ranked Tennessee Volunteers (2-0) late Saturday afternoon (6:00pm ET) in an early season SEC East battle. Florida won a tough road game 20-17 against Texas A&M last week, covering a 1 point line in the process. Both teams are 1-1 ATS this season. The Gators struggled in their opener, failing to cover a 28 point line in a 27-14 win over Bowling Green in the Swamp. Tennessee demolished Georgia St. last week 51-13 at home, failing to cover a 46 point spread. The Volunteers won their opener at NC State 35-21 in impressive fashion, covering the 3 point spread.
The Gators come in with an uncharacteristically low-ranked passing game, standing 114th in the nation in passing offense with 155 yards per game with their new starting quarterback, sophomore Jeff Driskel (276 yards passing, 1 TD) taking most of the snaps. The Gator defense has been solid if unspectacular, ranking 34th in points allowed with 15.5 per game, and 45th in total defense with 330.5 YPG allowed.
Tennessee in contrast to the Gators has thrown the ball well, ranking 10th nationally in the early going with 353.5 YPG through the air while ranking 15th in total offense with 541 YPG. Junior QB Tyler Bray (643 yard passing, 6 TDs with no INTs) has plenty of game experience and has led the offense so far. The Vols defense has allowed 17 PPG (41st in the nation) and 335 YPG to rank 47th in the nation in total defense.
Florida vs. Tennessee Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Florida Gators +3
@ Tennessee Volunteers -3
Over 48 (-110)
Under 48 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Florida vs. Tennessee Pick:
Florida is 2-9 ATS in their last 11 games overall and 1-6 ATS in their last 7 SEC games. Tennessee is 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games overall and 0-5-1 ATS in their last 6 games against a team with a winning record. The under is 5-0 in Florida’s last 5 road games, and 4-1 in their last 5 SEC games. The under is 3-1-1 in the Volunteers’ last 5 games against a team with a winning record and 4-1-1 in their last 6 home games. In head-to-head play, the Gators are 4-1-1 in the teams’ last 6 meetings in Knoxville, and 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 meetings overall. The road team is 3-0-1 ATS in the last 4 meetings in this series.
The Gators are coming off of a big road win last week in College Station, one of the toughest environments in the country to play in for a visiting team. The question is can they come back and do it again this week against a team that they have owned in recent years, winning the last seven meetings in a row? The Vols have not come within 10 points of Florida since 2006, but the prediction here is that this will be the year that they finally break through. They have an experienced QB in Bray who threw for almost 300 yards and 3 TDs in the Swamp last year, and if he can cut back on the turnovers in this game (Bray threw 2 picks last year against Florida), Tennessee should win this game and cover the line as well. The Gators do not have a proven QB and have struggled this year to generate much offense, they had trouble stopping Bray last year and will have even more trouble this year. The call here is that the Gators will not be able to keep up with the Vols offensive firepower, and Tennessee will grab the lead early and not relinquish it.
PICK = Tennessee -3