Tennessee Volunteers at Florida Gators Prediction ATS
Tennessee Volunteers (1-2) at Florida Gators (3-0)
When: Saturday, September 21, Noon EDT
Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, Fla.
Point Spread: FLA -14 (WagerWeb)
Total: O/U 49
Outlook For Week 4Tennessee finally did something positive by whacking FCS opponent Chattanooga by a 45-0 count, earning its first win of the season after an embarrassing loss to Georgia State and an epic collapse against Brigham Young. Florida appeared dead in the water three quarters into its visit to Kentucky, especially when it lost quarterback Feleipe Franks to injury, but as has often happened in that series, the Gators found a way to overcome the Wildcats, scoring the game’s final 19 points to escape Lexington with a 29-21 win. Now we’re on the third Saturday in September, the traditional date of Vols-Gators. This was once appointment television in the 1990s when the winner of this game could essentially pencil itself into a trip to the SEC title game. We’re a far cry from that, and it’s been a while since this rivalry was even competitive. Over the past 14 meetings, 13 have gone to Florida, and the Volunteers haven’t won at the Swamp since 2003.
How the Public is Betting the Tennessee/Florida GameThe line opened at Florida -14, and the loss of Feleipe Franks hasn’t affected that in the slightest, as the line has held at the Gators by two touchdowns. The over-under has increased slightly, going from 48.5 to 49.
Injury ConcernsTennessee: Running back Carlin Fils-Aime is questionable with a leg injury, while defensive back Bryce Thompson was suspended against Chattanooga and is questionable. Florida: Quarterback Feleipe Franks is out for the season with a dislocated ankle suffered against Kentucky. Defensive back Donovan Stiner was ejected for targeting against Kentucky and is suspended until the third quarter against Tennessee.
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When Tennessee Has the BallTennessee’s biggest issue has been its tendency to press the self-destruct button on offense. The Volunteers’ loss to Georgia State was a direct result of their inability to hold on to the football, as they lost two fumbles and threw an interception, giving the Panthers the momentum needed to pull the upset. Against BYU, Ty Chandler was excellent on the ground, gaining nearly six yards per carry and almost leading the Volunteers to the win if not for a terrible play by the defense that allowed BYU to get the game to overtime. To get a result, Tennessee will have to do something it hasn’t done yet against FBS competition: put together a full game from both the ground game and quarterback Jarrett Guarantano’s passing. If the Vols can do that, they’ll have an excellent shot at a win.
When Florida Has the BallA week ago, Florida was facing an opponent that had just lost its quarterback for the season and was facing a major adjustment for the rest of the year. Now the Gators are the ones trying to change their offense after losing Franks to injury, and truthfully, this could be the blessing in disguise that Florida needed to take a step forward and become the team that many thought it would be when the season started. Franks was accurate with the football, but it was clear he was little more than a game manager, and the Florida coaches didn’t trust him to try to win the game. When Kyle Trask came in, the Gators let it rip because they had no choice, and Trask helped the Gators storm back to a victory. Trask will have to be the one to get it done against the Volunteers because Florida either will not or cannot run the football. Other than a trick play that saw Josh Hammond rush for a 76-yard touchdown that iced the win over Kentucky, Florida got nothing out of its ground game against the Wildcats, rushing for a mere 62 yards on 26 attempts. Lamical Perine’s meager total of 120 rushing yards still leads the Gators for the season, even after he averaged 1.9 yards a carry against Kentucky.
Betting TrendsSuccess does not beget success for Tennessee, as the Volunteers are just 1-6 ATS following a straight-up victory and are 1-4 ATS in their past five games overall. However, Florida isn’t much better in its history against conference opponents, as the Gators have dropped their previous four SEC games ATS. It also has not been a wise decision to take the home team in this rivalry, as the visitors are 8-2-1 ATS over the past 11 meetings, with Tennessee owning three of those victories in the Swamp. The over has also been a good bet historically; seven of the past nine matchups OVER bettors have cashed their tickets.
Weather ReportThe Swamp will live up to its name on Saturday, as temperatures are projected to reach 86 degrees at kickoff in Gainesville.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the SpreadIs it crazy to pick Tennessee here? Maybe not. The numbers suggest that even though the Gators usually win, the teams tend to play close games. Tennessee always gets jazzed to play Florida, and the Volunteers are going into this game confident after whitewashing Chattanooga. Plus, Tennessee’s strengths play well against Florida’s weaknesses. The way you beat Tennessee is to run it down the Volunteers’ throats, which Georgia State did to the tune of more than 200 yards. Florida doesn’t appear capable of getting that done with its meager running game, which hasn’t done much of anything this season. The Gators will instead try to rely on Trask, which could go well — or turn into a disaster if Trask’s positive start against Kentucky doesn’t hold up against Tennessee. The Vols can defend the pass reasonably well, and there’s a good chance that with Florida’s struggles on the ground, Jeremy Pruitt might order the Volunteers to drop extra men into coverage and dare the Gators to beat Tennessee on the ground. I’m not sure Florida is willing to do that, and that tells me this game will be closer than people think. I might be crazy for doing this, but I’m going with the Volunteers and the points in this one.
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