Free Expert NCAA Football Picks: Florida Gators at Alabama Crimson Tide Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 9/18/2014
Florida Gators at Alabama Crimson Tide, Saturday Sept. 20, 3:30 p.m. ET
This sets up as a reasonably interesting game. Given the resources that Florida has it should be a great one, but the Gators have struggled badly, since Urban Meyer left, to turn their good fortune off the field into wins on the field - and that's being kind. They are off to a 2-0 start this year. Though that provides some reasons for hope, it's also deceptive. Their opener against Idaho was cancelled due to weather, but it wouldn't have been a test for the Gators anyway. Their first actual game was a 65-0 farce against Eastern Michigan that was as impressive as it was meaningless. Then they hosted Kentucky to open the SEC schedule. That should have been another easy game, but the Gators only escaped after playing three overtimes. Add it all up and we have an undefeated team that we really don't know too much about and which isn't as easy to respect as the scores might suggest.
The truth is that we really don't know where Alabama sits coming into this game, either. Their schedule of West Virginia, Florida Atlantic and Southern Miss hasn't exactly been a gauntlet of terror - their smallest spread has been 22 points - yet they are an ugly 0-3 ATS. In fact, Alabama is 0-6-1 ATS in their last seven games dating back to last year. Some of the problem is obviously that they are just too much of a public team, and it is not like they have been terrible or have really fallen far from covering. Still, the team has lacked a slight edge of intensity and, it seems, urgency in these games. After the embarrassing end to last season I might have expected the team to explode out of the gate this year looking to ensure that this year ends differently than last. Instead, they seem content in the knowledge that they are Alabama and that Alabama is always good.
Florida at Alabama Betting Storylines
It's both easy and entertaining to make fun of Lane Kiffin, and I have been as guilty of doing so as anyone. The truth is, though, that the 1,705 yards that the team has gained in their first three games under the new offensive coordinator is the most they have ever gained to open a season. The Tide were largely underwhelming against West Virginia in the opener, but the offense was quietly, clinically effective. It would be a mistake for bettors to underestimate this offense because of the Kiffin factor. With weapons like Amari Cooper at receiver and an obscenely deep stable of top running backs, this is a team that can accomplish a whole lot - even with Kiffin in charge. The ability of Florida to contain such an offense is a major question mark, though it is challenging to be too optimistic - the excitement of the total shutdown against Eastern Michigan was tempered by a barely-average performance against a Kentucky team that won't exactly be setting offensive records this season.
The Gators ran the ball competently against the Wildcats - better than they did anything else. Not surprisingly, they were solid on the ground against Eastern Michigan as well. They need to be able to establish the run to take some pressure off Jeff Driskel and the passing game, but it is no certainty that they will be able to do so here. Through three weeks Alabama has the top run defense in the country, allowing just 47 yards per game. You have to factor in the strength of schedule and the sample size in that, but even still there is no doubt that this is very good defensive front seven that Florida will have to try to run against. Your confidence in their ability to do so should have a big impact in how you perceive the game turning out - and where you put your money.
Florida Gators at Alabama Crimson Tide NCAA Football Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Florida favored by 16 points. That has since fallen to the key number of 14 in most spots. A slight majority of bets have been on Alabama, so it is no real surprise that lines have moved as they have. The total sits at 51.
Alabama in 0-4-1 ATS in their last five games at home. Florida is 1-5 ATS in the last six meetings between the teams. Florida has gone "under" the total in four of their last five games on the road.
Florida Gators at Alabama Crimson Tide Expert College Football Predictions and Picks
I haven't liked how Alabama has started their season, but I have no choice but to choose them here. They have a more dynamic offense and a much better mix of skill. Their defensive front is excellent, and the defense in general is good enough to attack the vulnerabilities that have been evident in the Florida attack so far. Alabama has dramatically better coaching - even with Kiffin factored in - and the advantage of playing at home can't be overstated. If the Tide choose to play close to their potential then this one won't be even sort of close.
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