Florida International Golden Panthers (3-7, 5-4 ATS) at No. 1 Florida Gators (10-0, 3-5-1 ATS) The Swamp Gainesville, F.L. Saturday November 21st, 12:30PM Eastern
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
Point Spread: FIU +41/Florida -41
The top ranked Florida Gators had another scare in their quest to perfection last week. The Gators fought with the South Carolina Gamecocks for a tough 60 minutes before slightly pulling away in the 4th quarter to seal the 24-14 victory. The win moved the Gators to 10-0 on the season along with 5 other still unbeaten schools around the country. However, Florida has no worries like some of the other teams who could win out and still not have a shot at the National Title.
The Gators own the top spot in all 3 polls and the most difficult portion of the schedule is behind them. All likely signs point to the SEC Championship Game against Alabama as deciding who will play in the National Title Game. However, the Gators still have some business to take care of first starting with Florida International this week in the The Swamp. The Gators will be huge 41 point favorites when they take on the Golden Panthers out of the Sun Belt Conference as they continue their march towards perfection.
The Golden Panthers are holding down a 3-7 mark on the season and will be out-matched in nearly every part of the field this Saturday. However it is college football and anything can happen, but even that seems to be a stretch to say. Florida International relinquished over 40 points to the likes of Middle Tennessee State and Troy earlier this year. That is the same Troy team that Florida posted 56 on in the second week of the season. So it is safe to say that Florida International will be up against Goliath this Saturday.
The Golden Panthers main strength on offense comes from the passing game behind senior quarterback Paul McCaul. McCaul has thrown for just less than 1,969 yards and 13 touchdowns on the season. The Golden Panthers quarterback has had some of his biggest performances of the year in their few wins this year throwing for over 250 yards in two of those contests and Florida International will need all types of help from their passing unit Saturday. Another guy to keep your eye on since most are unfamiliar with the Golden Panthers is wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. Hilton has 50 catches on the season for 529 yards and the offense loves to get him the ball. Hilton and McCaul will be the leading components to attempting to do what no other offense has done against Florida, and that is post more than 20 points on the Gators defense.
The Gators defense is of course what has really put them over the top for the last few years. Florida leads the nation holding opponents to just 10.5 points per game and ranks 2nd in total defense allowing just 234 yards per game. Florida’s defense should be able to have their way with an offense that ranks outside the top 100 with just 322 yards per game. Especially on the defensive line, the Gators defensive ends like Carlos Dunlap will wreak havoc on the Golden Panthers backfield and they may even have the possibility of pitching a shutout.
The reason that Florida International will not be given a chance here is because they have given up 238 yards per game against the run per game ranking 117th in the country. Upset opportunities are bred from turnovers and big plays. The Gators will have the luxury of going to the air to make big plays, but they will rack up a ton of yards and do major damage on the ground. QB Tim Tebow leads the team with 604 rushing yards and 10 scores. Of course tailbacks Jeffery Demps, Chris Rainey, and Emmanuel Moody are averaging 7 yards per carry combined and have an additional 10 touchdowns as well. The Gators rushing offense ranks 8th in the country averaging 230 yards per game. Not only will Florida rush for 300 yards, but WR Riley Cooper will make at least two big plays in the air and this game will get out of hand fast.
Jay’s Pick - 41 points is a lot to cover, but Florida International may not score. I’m still taking Florida.