Florida Gators (4-2 SU, 4-2 ATS) at No. 24 Auburn Tigers (4-2 SU, 2-4 ATS)
Saturday October 15th, 2011. 7:00PM EST, College Football Week 7
Jordan Hare Stadium Auburn, AL
By Jay Horne, College Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: UF -2/Aub +2
Over/Under Total: OFF
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The Florida Gators suffered their 2nd straight blowout loss last week at the hands of LSU by a score of 41-11. It was the 2nd straight week the Gators had lost by 28 points or more after suffering another big loss to Alabama the week before ultimately marking the first time in 3 decades Florida suffered two straight losses by more than 24 points. Perhaps it's a sign of the times, or maybe both losses show just how far the SEC West powers have come along. This week the Gators battle another SEC West power by way of the 24th ranked Auburn Tigers inside Jordan Hare Stadium.
The Auburn Tigers are not near the power they were a year ago when they won the National Championship. However, the young team is not near as bad as some people believed they would be in 2011. The Tigers upset a top ten South Carolina team two weeks ago and have two wins against top 16 opponents on the season. Last week the Tigers, defense long to be the weakness of the team, failed to find a way to stop an explosive Arkansas offense in a 38-14 loss on the road. It was the 2nd loss for the Tigers this season. This week the Tigers return home to Jordan Hare in a rebound situation. The Tigers have won 11 straight games at home and they will put that streak on the line this week against the visiting Gators.
For Florida, they still believe they can contend for the SEC East and they are not out of the picture despite two early conference losses. However, the Gators must find a way to get things going on the offensive side of the football. The Gators scored just 21 points combined in their two losses to LSU and Alabama. Additionally, starting QB John Brantley missed last week with an ankle injury and his status for this week is still uncertain. Freshman Jacoby Brissett received the nod last week against LSU but struggled completing 8 of 14 passing for 1 score and 2 picks. The good news is that Florida does not have to post huge numbers throwing the football. Fortunately, Florida can be successful as long as they can get moving on the ground despite whoever plays the quarterback role.
The problem over the last few weeks is that the Gators have battled two of the toughest rushing defenses in the country and failed to establish the run. This week Florida will attempt to get running backs Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey the ball more often. Rainey currently leads the team with 467 yards. However, Demps is the true homerun threat averaging over 8 yards per carry and a team-high 4 touchdowns. Fortunately for Florida, the Auburn defense has been horrific against the run allowing 201 yards per game on the ground. Therefore, Florida will attempt to get back to what they do best and that is attacking on the ground.
For Auburn, defense has to be the major area of concern. The Tigers rank a miserable 105th in total defense giving up 439 yards per game. Additionally, the Tigers have relinquished nearly 30 points on average as well. The challenge this week will be getting to the Florida tailbacks quickly and bringing them down before they get into the open field. The bottom line is that the Tigers must play solid against the run this weekend if they are going to keep their unbeaten home streak alive.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Tigers like to move the ball on the ground as well. The Auburn passing has been nearly non-existent and QB Barrett Trotter has struggled heavily. However, the Tigers have one of the best tailbacks in the SEC in Michael Dyer. Dyer has been explosive this season racking up 679 yards with 8 touchdowns while averaging near 6 yards per carry. Also, backup Onterrio McCalebb has added 221 yards while averaging over 5 yards per carry off the bench. Expect both guys to be a focus for the offensive attack this Saturday against the Gators. The key will be if the Auburn offense can run the ball consistently and sustain long drives to allow their defense to rest. If they can do that, they will have a good chance of scoring the victory.
Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Both teams are in a rebound situation and I believe this will be a hard fought game on both sides. However, I believe the Gators will put out the win. Take Florida -2.
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