Pick – Analysis
The SEC East is still wide open behind Georgia, and the Bulldogs seem to have a penchant to lose at least one bad Game each year. The winner of this Game should get that spot right behind Georgia as every other team in the East looks a step below. The undefeated Gators are a -1.5 point favorite (at 5 Dimes Sportsbook) against the Volunteers.
Florida enters this Game 3-0, but could easily lose its next five Games, with Tennessee being the only non-ranked opponent on its upcoming Schedule. At the least, the Gators look better than a year ago, winning Games they are meant to win, although not by a lot. They fought off Kentucky last weekend and have the same 2-1 ATS record as Tennessee.
The Volunteers have had a little tougher Schedule, but that’s mostly because of the Game against Oklahoma. In fact, if Tennessee had held on against the Sooners, they probably would be the favorite in this Game.
Tennessee continues to disappoint, though, and that goes back to last year’s meeting between these teams when Florida won 10-9 in Knoxville. That winning streak continues from 2004, with the Gators winning 10 straight in this matchup. While the Gators are favored, this may be the year Tennessee breaks through.
Florida’s defense stepped it up in last week’s 14-9 win over Kentucky, but this Game will be the hardest test of the season so far for the Gators. The Volunteers have been scoring for fun against weaker teams, and had some success against Oklahoma a couple weeks ago.
Junior quarterback Joshua Dobbs has been inconsistent for the Vols and they’ll need him in this Game to get the win. He struggled against the Sooners, but has beaten up on Bowling Green and Western Carolina. The running Game is helping as well with Jalen Hurd rushing for 300 yards and five TDs, while Alvin Kamara has 195 more and two TDs. Florida held Patrick Towles in check, but was actually gashed by Blake Kemp and East Carolina two weeks ago.
No one has been able to run on the Gators yet, and that could be what decides this Game. If Hurd finds room, that will make things easier for Dobbs. But if he doesn’t, Dobbs could be in for another difficult Game.
On the other end, the Volunteers haven’t been too impressive, allowing 30 points to Bowling Green and then letting Oklahoma to comeback and Score28 in the second half. It’ll just be a matter if Florida can capitalize on that or not, and so far, it doesn’t look like the offense will be able to. SCoring 61 points against NMSU and 31 against ECU doesn’t mean all that much.
Florida’s quarterback is still undecided (as of Tuesday) for this Game so that doesn’t show much confidence. Will Grier has played the most, while Treon Harris’ only real time came against New Mexico State. Grier couldn’t pass the ball against Kentucky, but still led the team in rushing with 61 yards and a TD.
Florida was all over the news after Jim McElwain ripped apart running back Kelvin Taylor, and then he didn’t do much against Kentucky, garnering 2.8 yards per carry.
The road team is 6-0-1 ATS in the last seven meetings between these two schools and the underdog is 3-1-1- ATS in the last five.
Our Pick – Revenge times 10? The Tennessee program appears to be on the rise. But that rise won’t be fully underway until the Vols break through in this series. They have the better offense in this Game and the Gator defense appears to be down a notch. Heck, if East Carolina can hang 21 on the Gators then the Vols are sure to get theirs. The question is, can the Gator offense keep up? We say no. Vols +1.5