Auburn Tigers vs. Florida Gators Pick 10/5/19
Auburn Tigers (5-0) vs. Florida Gators (5-0)
When: Saturday, October 5, 3:30 p.m. EDT
Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, Fla.
Point Spread: AUB -3
Total: O/U 45
Outlook For Week 6
Florida had no problems with Towson, as the Gators routed their second FCS opponent of the season. But questions still abound as to how good Florida really is, given that the Gators have played an incredibly soft schedule to this point. Florida holds a 5-0 record, but the best team the Gators have faced to this point is probably Kentucky, and the Wildcats and Miami both appear mediocre while Tennessee, the only other FBS opponent Florida has seen, is a straight-up catastrophe.
Nobody’s questioning how good Auburn is at this point, not after the Tigers have earned wins over Oregon, Texas A&M and now Mississippi State. The win over the Bulldogs was never in doubt, as Auburn controlled the contest from start to finish and never let Mississippi State get started. Auburn still faces a tough row to hoe with LSU, Georgia, and Alabama on the schedule, but the Tigers appear to have the talent to make a run at the playoff.
How the Public is Betting the Auburn/Florida Game
The line initially came out even, but public sentiment has shifted to Auburn and now favors the Tigers by 3. There has been no shift whatsoever in the point total, which has held tight at 45.
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Wide receiver Ja’Varrius Johnson is questionable after missing the Mississippi State game for personal reasons. Linebacker Derick Hall is questionable after missing two games with a knee injury.Florida:
Besides quarterback Feleipe Franks, who is lost for the season, Florida reports no injuries.
When Auburn Has the Ball
Bo Nix had his finest game as a collegian against Mississippi State, and as a result, the Tigers dominated from start to finish against the Bulldogs. Making matters better for Auburn was the fact that Nix didn’t dominate out of necessity, but out of opportunity. Mississippi State wasn’t able to stop JaTarvious Whitlow, who scored three touchdowns and averaged 5.5 yards per carry, making life easy for Nix.
That’s pretty important for the Tigers because this could be the game where Auburn needs Nix to get the job done through the air in order for them to win. Florida’s biggest strength is its dominant run defense, which ranks 16th in the nation and second in the SEC, behind only Georgia. If Whitlow can’t get started, Nix will have to prove that what he did against Mississippi State was no fluke.
When Florida Has the Ball
Kyle Trask has gotten the job done against the likes of Tennessee and Towson, but there’s a big difference between the Volunteers and an FCS squad and an Auburn defense that’s held a pair of top 20 teams to 21 points or less. Like Nix, Trask is going to have all the weight on his shoulders because he’s facing a top-quality run defense, as the Tigers are 28th in the nation against the run.
However, that’s nothing new for Trask because Florida cannot run the ball against anyone. The Gators rank 88th in the nation on the ground, which ranks 12th in the SEC. That’s bad, but making matters worse is the fact that that number has come despite facing a pair of FCS opponents and Kentucky, which features one of the worst run defenses in the nation. If Florida couldn’t get LaMical Perine going against the likes of the Wildcats, Towson and Tennessee-Martin, good luck trying to get a running game working against Auburn
That means Trask has got to be on target with his decision-making, which he wasn’t against Tennessee, tossing two interceptions and losing a fumble. If the Gators turn it over three times against Auburn, this game isn’t going to end well for Florida.
In recent years, Auburn has held the edge on Florida, although recent terms has been used very loosely, as the longtime rivals have met just three times in the past 17 years. Auburn and Florida used to play every year when the SEC used two permanent rivals from the other division per school, but since the league went to one permanent rival in 2002, the meetings have been infrequent and low-scoring. The last time the teams played, Auburn defeated Florida 17-6, although it’s tough to glean too much from that game because only the fifth-year seniors were even in high school at the time of that game, while Dan Mullen was coaching Mississippi State. The only one who was around for that game is Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, and he was the Tigers’ offensive coordinator at the time. So while it’s helpful to know Auburn is 4-0 ATS in their past four games with Florida and the under has hit in the previous six meetings, it’s wise not to read too much into those trends.
What can we learn from the past? Something has to give on the total, for one thing. Florida’s past four games in Gainesville have all gone under the total, while the over is 4-1 in Auburn’s previous five SEC games. On the other side of the coin, the Tigers have been a covering machine. Getting the point spread cover in each of their past six contests. Florida, not so much: the Gators have covered in just one of their past five against SEC competition.
The Swamp is going to live up to its name on Saturday, with temperatures reaching 90 degrees and thunderstorms in the area.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
If you’re a regular reader of PredictEm, you know by now that I really like Auburn and I do not like Florida. The Gators have been sliding by against a weak schedule so far, and they haven’t seen a team of Auburn’s caliber. The Tigers, on the other hand, have proven themselves against top-quality competition such as Texas A&M and Oregon, and they’ve got a track record of success away from home. Throw in that the Gators are mostly one-dimensional on offense at this point, and there’s little reason for me to trust Florida.
To paraphrase a line from Michael Lycklama of the Idaho Statesman from a few years back, would you rather be Florida, which has struggled to beat the likes of mediocre opponents like Kentucky and Miami, or Auburn, which has faced tough opponents and come out a winner?
I know which one I’d rather be. Give me the Tigers.
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