Cotton Bowl Picks: Florida vs. Oklahoma
Florida Gators (8-3 SU, 5-5-1 ATS) vs. Oklahoma Sooners (8-2 SU, 7-3 ATS)
When: Wednesday, December 30, 8 p.m.
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Point Spread: FLA -3/OKLA +3 (GTBets - Get a 100% REAL CASH bonus up to $500!)
Total: O/U 71.5
Maybe the fact that his team’s not in the College Football Playoff for the first time since the 2016-17 season will allow Lincoln Riley to finally win a bowl game. Riley is 0-3 in bowls as the Sooners’ coach, as Oklahoma’s lost in the CFP semifinals four times in the past five years. The one time Oklahoma missed the playoff was the one time the Sooners were victorious, as they won the Cotton Bowl against Auburn that year and sent Bob Stoops out as a winner. But without the spotlight of a semifinal, the combination of surging momentum and a lack of pressure might be what Oklahoma needs.
On the other sideline, Dan Mullen is no stranger to winning bowl games. He’s won his past four bowls and five of six overall, with the one exception being an Orange Bowl loss in 2014 when he was at Mississippi State. But this time. Plus, he’s in a New Year’s Six bowl for the third time in three years at Florida, so he’s clearly well-schooled in what it takes to win at this level. But this time, he might be on the wrong side of the equation, as he doesn’t get the benefit of facing a team without several key players (2018 Peach Bowl vs. Michigan) or an overmatched squad that’s only here because its conference had a specific tie-in (2019 Orange Bowl vs. Virginia). Instead, he’s the one scrambling after a key player opted out, as tight end, Kyle Pitts chose to pass on the Cotton Bowl. Can Mullen Magic lift the Gators to another bowl victory, or will Oklahoma finally end a season with a win?
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How the Public is Betting the Florida/Oklahoma Game
The sharps clearly believe in Mullen Magic, as they’ve bumped the line up from -2.5 to -3 for the Gators. The public isn’t so sure, as they’ve just barely backed Florida, with 53 percent of tickets coming in on the Gators. One thing both agree on is that this game will see a lot of points, as the total has risen from 68.5 to 71.5.
Defensive back Rashad Torrence (undisclosed) is questionable. Tight end Kyle Pitts opted out of the bowl game. At the same time, offensive lineman Hayden Knighton, defensive back Kamar Wilcoxson, utility man Kahleil Jackson and defensive lineman Jaelin Humphries are all out for undisclosed reasons. Linebacker Jeremiah Moon is out with a foot injury.
Tight end Austin Stogner (leg) is out, while cornerback Tre Brown opted out of the bowl game. Safety Justin Broiles (lower body) is questionable.
When Florida Has the Ball
This is how dominant Kyle Trask has been all year: the Gators don’t even pretend to try to run the football, and their offense has still been pretty tough to stop. Alabama found out the hard way that Florida is never really out of a game when the Tide made the mistake of letting the Gators back into the game and had to scramble to hold on to a game that should have been in the bag.
It’s probably a good thing that the Gators aren’t that dependent on Dameon Pierce because running on Oklahoma tends to be rather futile anyway. The Sooners have already faced much better backs in Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard and Iowa State’s Breece Hall, and they turned Hubbard into a non-factor, holding him to 44 yards on eight carries. Hall did get two touchdowns but needed 23 carries to scratch out 79 yards.
So Florida’s going to take to the air early and often here, and that means Trevon Grimes has to step up. Grimes was the No. 3 option during the season, but with Pitts no longer available, he’s going to have to have a big game to prevent the Sooners from keying on Kadarius Toney. Toney went for 984 yards and ten scores during the year, but that was with opposing defenses having to respect the matchup nightmare Pitts presented. Without him on the field, can the Gators still be effective against an Oklahoma defense that has held four straight opponents to 21 or less?
When Oklahoma Has the Ball
Spencer Rattler has stepped up over the past few games, as he didn’t turn the ball over once against either Iowa State or Oklahoma State. Rattler is nowhere near what Baker Mayfield or Kyler Murray, or Jalen Hurts were for the Sooners, but he’s only a freshman and will be in the Sooners’ system for at least two more seasons. For now, all Oklahoma needs him to do is not force the issue.
That’s meant spreading the ball around the field, and the Sooners did it very well against Iowa State in the Big 12 title game. Marvin Mims led Oklahoma with 101 receiving yards and a score, but he was one of seven different Sooners who caught a pass. Throw in a solid ground game from Rhamondre Stevenson, and it’s easy to see why Oklahoma’s offense took things to another level in the final few weeks of the season.
Mullen Magic might work great for getting the Gators a win, but that doesn’t mean that it’s great for getting bettors a cover. Mullen is only 4-5 ATS in his career in bowl games, and two of those were against Michigan, which has been a raging disaster in bowls (the Wolverines have lost six of their past seven bowls and have one cover in their past nine postseason games) and barely counts.
On the other side, Oklahoma might have been a disaster at winning the game in the playoff, but against the spread, the Sooners haven’t been that bad. They’ve covered in two of their past four and nearly had a third cover but fell in overtime against Georgia. The perception doesn’t match the reality when it comes to the Sooners and scoring in bowl games, either. Four of Oklahoma’s past five bowls have gone under the total because it’s been set so high, and 20 of the Sooners’ past 25 December games have gone under. None of those games came against Florida, however, which has gone over in seven of its past eight bowl games.
It’s going to be an ugly day in the Metroplex with rain throughout the day and temperatures falling to 33…but there’s a retractable roof on AT&T Stadium, so this game will almost certainly be played with the roof closed, taking weather out of the equation.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
Oklahoma’s reputation is working against it here, but the Sooners are finally the team playing with no pressure and have the momentum in their favor. They should be the hungrier squad, and they don’t have to deal with missing a crucial part of their attack.
Quite honestly, with Pitts not on the field, I think the wrong team is favored in this game, and I intend to take full advantage. I don’t think I need the free field goal, so I’m going to forgo it and back Oklahoma on the money line to maximize my profit if I’m right. Make this the year you buckle down and start saving money wherever you can! The whole damn world is trying to suck your loot out of your pocket! Stop overpaying for odds! Stop laying -110! Start laying only -105 TODAY at BAS!