Florida Gators Odds to win the College Football National Championship with Expert Betting Predictions
It has been 10 years since Urban Meyer won his second of two national titles in Florida. Not coincidentally, it has been about that long since anyone had any fun being a Florida Gators fan. Meyer had one more good season after the national title, then things sputtered in his final year before he left in strange circumstances. Will Muschamp was brought in to be the savior, but he really, really wasn't, winning just two more conference games than he lost in four mostly ugly seasons. Then it was Jim McElwain's turn to step up and shine, in a move that seemed odd at the time. Unfortunately, it still seems like an odd fit, and despite winning two SEC East titles when the division was just lousy he didn't even make it through his third season when things went poorly.
But worry not, Gators fans, because a savior has arrived who is going to make everything okay. Dan Mullen couldn't win consistently at Mississippi State, but we have long heard that he is a genius stuck in a tough spot. So now he gets to prove it. Or the Gators get to shop for another coach in three years. Franky, nothing would be surprising at this point.
2017 in a Nutshell
Things were ominous from the start for the Gators. They were rolled over by Michigan in the home of the Dallas Cowboys in their opener, and then their second game against Northern Colorado was cancelled due to Hurricane Irma. If ever there was a sign of how a season was going to go, those two weeks were it. They bounced back for a while, beating a decent Tennessee team at home. Unfortunately, that was their best effort of the season, and it was still September. Then they beat Kentucky and Vandy, but SEC teams hardly get credit for that these days. Then it was about close calls as they lost to LSU by one and Texas A&M by two - both at home. And that is when they seemed to realize how bad they were, and they quit. Georgia absolutely humiliated them. They got crushed at Missouri of all places. Then they lost at South Carolina. They rebounded to beat UAB at home but then capped things by getting manhandled by a Florida State team that had been a mess all year. It's worth noting that McElwain was shown the door after the Georgia debacle, so the last three games were under interim coach Randy Shannon.
Key Additions and Departures
The obvious change comes on top, with Mullen in charge now, Todd Grantham running the defense, and a committee taking over the offense - with Mullen calling the plays for the most part. It has to be viewed as an upgrade in that what they were doing last year clearly wasn't working.
Mullen has to deal with some departures - most notably DT Taven Bryan, receiver Antonio Callaway and corner Duke Dawson via the draft - but nothing too crippling. And despite the lousy season and the changes, the incoming recruiting class could certainly be worse - only 19 players are new, but 15 of them are 4-stars with at least one rating service. New coaches have certainly been in worse shape.
Biggest Area of Concern
Mullen doesn't have an obvious QB starter, and the spring didn't clarify anything. Feleipe Franks has started games for Florida, but not well enough to keep the job. Kyle Trask looked the best in the spring game, but he is unproven and Mullen doesn't seem to have any confidence in him yet. And Emory Jones is an early-enrollee that Mullen recruited. He fits the offense best and is probably the long-term choice, but he has a lot of work left to do. If Mullen can't figure things out by the opener then it could be a rough season.
Florida Gators Schedule Analysis
If Mullen doesn't start 3-0 then he has serious issues - he gets Charleston Southern, Kentucky and Colorado State at home to ease into things. Then he has a trip to Tennessee to warm up for a return that Mississippi State that should be more emotional than challenging. Then they host LSU in a tough game, get a break playing at Vandy, and then play Georgia is what feels like the surest loss on the schedule. Then it's three home games - Drew Lock and Missouri, a good measuring stick against South Carolina, and a laugher against Idaho - before rounding it out with a trip to the new-look Seminoles. The good news for Mullen and the Gators is that the path to bowl eligibility is very smooth. Unfortunately, the path from there to respectability is a tough one.
2018-19 Florida Gators Betting Odds and Trends
Bovada has the season win total set at 8, with the "over" a solid favorite at this point. At +10000 they are clearly and obviously not viewed as a serious national title contender. They are the fifth choice to win the SEC at +1600, though obviously way behind Alabama at -125.
2018-19 Florida Gators Predictions and College Football Picks
Mullen is a better fit that McElwain and should do okay. His offense is demanding, though, and it is unclear if he has the tools he needs this year to maximize it. I see six games they are almost definitely winning and three they very likely are not. It's those other three that will define things. I lean towards pessimism, but not enough to see much value in the "under" here.
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