The Florida Gators will welcome UMass to Florida, which will undoubtedly, look like a swamp after a hurricane passed through Florida just recently. Florida should feel at home in The Swamp, while UMass has probably gone through a logistics nightmare planning travel to Florida. This will be Jim McElwain’s second-year as head coach of the Gators, following what turned into a quiet success for Florida. They went all the way to the SEC Championship against Alabama, where they couldn’t disrupt the Crimson Tide, but it was a nice season nonetheless. It gives them something to build off, because when you look back at it, Florida got to the SEC Championship without any resemblance of an offense. If they had just an average offense, the Gators would have been in business in the SEC.
With an offense, Florida would have had a legitimate shot at bringing Bama to the wire. However, Treon Harris and the offense had all types of issues getting going throughout the year. Florida is going to be transitioning to a new quarterback in 2016, where they have tried to figure out solutions for this position since Tim Tebow was in Gainesville. That wasn’t like it was yesterday either, it was several years ago since Florida had an offense where it struck fear into opposing defenses. The defense has always been there for Florida, and it’s going to be there for them again in 2016.
UMass is going through a transitioning of sorts as well. However, unlike Florida, there will be more growing pains for the Minutemen. They have been trying to figure football out at this level, but since coming over from FCS, they haven’t been able to translate their success there here. There was some hype with them making the jump, however it’s been met with a resounding dud.
UMass has accumulated an abysmal record of 8-40 at the D1 level of play. They don’t do anything especially well, struggling at most key areas. Nevertheless, they can’t get much worse than they have been. They had three wins in 2015, which came against FIU, Eastern Michigan, and Buffalo. UMass would love to nab the biggest win of school history against Florida, but they have a hill to climb as 38.5 point underdogs.
UMass Minutemen vs. Florida Gators NCAAF Betting Odds:
vs. Florida -37(-110)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
UMass vs. Florida Pick:
UMass had one game last year against a big timer, Notre Dame. I had Notre Dame in that one and it was a sweat free win, with the Fighting Irish running the table in a 62-27 game. The Minutemen will be looking at a new quarterback this season. However, Ross Comis did make an appearance in that Notre Dame after things got of hand, where he passed for 69 yards and a touchdown. The second and third-stringers were in for Notre Dame at that point, though. Florida also brings the best table he’s faced to the table tonight. The most points they scored in a win came against Buffalo, 31-26. If UMass had to scrap for 31 points against Buffalo, don’t look for things to improve any against the Gators. They should score 17 points tops in this matchup, and that is being generous.
The Minutemen are extremely depleted on the offensive side, they are dealing with much more than just a new starting quarterback. Leading receiver from 2015, Tajae Sharp, is gone. He hauled in 111 balls for 1,319 yards, an impressive feat for any receiver. That production will be gone for them. Digging deeper, all of their top five receivers have moved on from UMass. Their leading receiver? That will be Shakur Nesmith who had only 15 catches and 204 yards in 2015. I highly doubt UMass is going to be able to get their passing game going against one of the best defenses in college football.
I have a little bit of faith in first-year starter, Luke Del Rio. Yes, he is the son of NFL coach Jack Del Rio, if you were wondering. Del Rio looked cool, calm, and collected in the annual Florida spring game, moving the ball against some quality defenders on the Gators. That doesn’t always translate to the regular season, but Del Rio has been around the block and has been able to watch and observe at Alabama and Oregon State. As long as he isn’t careless with the football this evening, Florida should put on a show against UMass. The Minutemen passing game against the Florida secondary is one of the largest mismatches you will see on Saturday.
PICK: FLORIDA -37 (-110)