The Miami Hurricanes will take on the Florida Gators to kick off the 2019 college football season. The Gators are -7 point betting favorites with a total of 50.5 at 5 dimes sportsbook. The betting action has been fairly balanced in terms of the number of bets taken on both sides, however the Gators side has seen the larger bets.
College football is back! You’ve likely been counting down the days for the last month (or longer). It’s another season of hopefully beating the books with an in-state battle between Florida and Miami starting things off.
High Expectations for Both
Both have lofty expectations, aiming to win their respective conference divisions, the Hurricanes at +205 to win the ACC Coastal and the Gators at +345 to win the SEC East.
While this game won’t matter in those races, it’ll matter on a national scale for both teams and conferences.
These teams last met in 2013 and have played only six times since 1987 so there’s little recent history to look at. It’s clear why Florida is a touchdown favorite because it was better last year and also returns Dan Mullen as head coach. Miami struggled through 2018 and decided to tab defensive coordinator Manny Diaz as new head coach.
It doesn’t help Miami that Florida may be better on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Feleipe Franks improved to 24 touchdowns and six picks last year and he’s still only a junior.
Both Teams Strong Defensively
Another year under Mullen in this system and the Gators could be a potent offense. They’ll still focus on getting Lamical Perine and Dameon Pierce the ball between the tackles, but Franks is the guy that opens up the offense with all of his top wideouts returning in Van Jefferson, Tyrie Cleveland and Josh Hammond.
The Hurricanes still have a fairly loaded defense after allowing 18.2 points per game last year, but their secondary is mostly new and that’s where Franks can capitalize. Betting on Franks to help Florida cover hasn’t been a useful strategy in the last few years, but this could be the year it changes after they closed last campaign scoring at least 35 points in the final four games, all wins.
Hurricanes Offense Could Struggle Early
Unfortunately for the ‘Canes, they’ve had a quarterback battle all offseason with Ohio State transfer Tate Martell the likely winner over N’Kosi Perry and Jarren Williams. The hope is that new coordinator Dan Enos is enough to improve, but given last year’s issues, that won’t be automatic. Miami went through a four-game ACC stretch of failing to top 21 points last year.
Along with the new QB, DeeJay Dallas steps into the top running back spot behind a line that returns two starters. On the other end, coordinator Todd Grantham is still there to go with seven returning starters, meaning the Gators should have an elite defense. They have two of the best corners in the country and depth up front, which could control this game.
Handicapping the Game
In order to handicap this first college football game of 2019, we first must revisit 2018. Had these teams met in January, for example, in a Bowl game, we would have had the Gators winning by double digits.
So, what has transpired since last season and which side does it help? Well, in the case of Miami, they have a new head coach. Sure, he’s been with the team and knows them inside and out. Not much should change strategically. But again, the key words are, “new coach”.
The Hurricanes defense should be strong but the offense remains a question mark. This team lost 5 of 7 down the stretch last year and a big part of that performance was an under productive offense. In those 5 losses they averaged 12.6 points per game. That won’t cut it against the Gators.
Under 50.5 May be the Play
The Gators have most of the pieces in place from a year ago including a defense that returns 8 starters. They should be the team in this spot, that’s more prepared to pick up where they left off in 2018. As this number dips below a TD, we get even more value with the Gators.
While this may seem like a contradiction to our side selection, we also think the under is worth a look. In fact, we like the total more than the side here. No one is questioning the defenses of either of these teams. Our total line, had this taken place in January, would have been 42.
Our Picks – Gators/Hurricanes UNDER 50.5 and Florida -6.5