Florida Gators at Utah Utes CFB Pick with Analysis – 8-31

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Utah hosting Florida will be the marquee game on Thursday’s college football slate as we kick off week 1 of the season. The Utes are favored by -6.5 with a total of 46 and a primetime kickoff at 8 pm est.

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The Utes are in off two consecutive 10-4 seasons while the Gators will be looking for 7 wins or more having gone 6-7 the last two years.

These two squared off last season in the Swamp to kick off the 2022 season with the Gators coming away with a 29-26 win.

Utah was ahead in that game 19-14 heading into the 4th quarter. The Gators regained the lead a couple of minutes into the 4th with Utah pulling ahead with 6 minutes to go. But it was Florida QB Anthony Richardson taking it in from the 2 yard line with 1:25 to go to seal the win for the Gators.

QB’s In the Spotlight

Richardson now plays for the Colts. The Gators will turn to Wisconsin transfer Graham Mertz to lead the offense. Florida returns 6 starters to the offense and 5 to the defense. Utah on the other hand, returns 7 on the offense including QB Cameron Rising as well as 9 to the defense.

It should be noted that Rising has not been 100% for all of fall camp and has been limited in practice. Word is he will be a game time decision. If Rising can’t go it will be Nate Johnson or Bryson Barnes getting the nod.

As mentioned above, these two opened the season last year with the Gators pulling out a last minute win. However, as the season progressed, the gap between these two widened in terms of our numbers and the predicted margin if they played again. If they played at the conclusion of last season our model would have had the Utes by 12.

Keep in mind the predicted 12 point margin is with last years talent. Utah is in better shape in terms of returning talent with just about everyone back so there’s some validity to that predicted 12 point margin. The wild card is whether or not Richardson can go and if he does how effective will he be.

Our Pick

We love the revenge angle in college football. It’s especially worth noting in this spot due to the fact that these two tangled a year ago to start the season. No team, especially teams with high hopes, wants to start the year with a loss.

It can ruin the season right off the bat. Last season Utah was being mentioned as a potential national champion prior to the season. Losing out of the gate makes that an uphill battle with no room for error the rest of the way. Here, the Utes basically get a do over and the certainly have the talent to right that wrong.

With the talent that’s still in place combined with the game being in Utah and a revenge angle to boot, we see Utah coming out on top in this one. The question marks surrounding the Utah QB situation curbs our enthusiasm a bit and keeps this game from becoming an actual play for us.

We’ll call this a strong opinion at this point and we’ll lay the -6.5 with the Utes. The total here also seems a tad low at 45. It’s been bet under from an opener of 51 but after moving 6 points the value lies on the over. We’ll go over that total, also a strong opinion.

Utah -6

Utah/Florida OVER 45

**Note – this play was put out before the news of Utah QB Cam Rising being out. The line moved as Utah -4. We like the play at -4 even without Rising.

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