This season I’ll be breaking down a few of college football’s biggest games each week and giving out at least one bet I like from each matchup.
Let’s take a look at this week’s College Game Day matchup between Florida and Tennessee.
Florida vs Tennessee Spread, current line:
Florida vs Tennessee Best Bet Prediction:
Trust Florida head coach Billy Napier and take Florida against the spread at +10.5 points. Napier is 5-1 against the spread in his career as a double-digit dog, including one outright win over Iowa State in 2020 when he was at Louisiana.
When Florida is on Offense
If Tennessee can get pressure on Anthony Richardson, the Vols defense can cause problems for Florida.
Richardson has been a mess versus pressure this season, completing just six of 20 pass attempts, according to Sports Info Solutions:
Comp% Y/A Scramble Rate no pressure 60.7% 6.4 8% vs pressure 30.0% 2.7 12%
A potential factor in the Vols’ ability to generate pressure is their 37% blitz rate 一 the 15th highest rate, per Sports Info Solutions.
Richardson has been pressured on 42% of his dropbacks versus the blitz, compared to 24% versus standard pressure.
Although Richardson is struggling as a passer, he may be able to beat Tennessee with his legs.
Through three games, Richardson is averaging 7.2 yards per carry (excluding sacks), while averaging 6.7 attempts per game.
Tennessee’s defense struggled with mobile quarterbacks last year, including in the Florida game when Emory Jones (now at Arizona State) ran for 146 yards on 14 carries, excluding sacks.
Tennessee ranked 13th in the SEC in yards per carry allowed to quarterbacks (6.8) in 2021, according to Sports Info Solutions.
Tennessee hasn’t been tested by a mobile quarterback this season 一 other than Akron’s DJ Irons, who carried the ball five times for 29 yards (5.8 yards per attempt, excluding sacks), 一 so it’s unclear if any improvements have been made.
When Tennessee is on Offense
Tennessee runs a fast-paced offense that attacks downfield.
Running a play once every 20.5 seconds, Tennessee is the nation’s sixth fastest offense this season.
Additionally, 31% of Hooker’s passes have traveled at least 15 yards downfield, the fourth highest rate among Power 5 quarterbacks.
The Gators can potentially slow down the Vols’ offense by getting pressure on Hooker.
Hooker was pressured at a 30% rate or higher in five games last year, taking 20 combined sacks in those contests:
- 39% vs Pittsburgh 一 41-34 loss
- 38% vs Kentucky 一 45-42 win
- 38% vs Purdue 一 48-45 loss
- 37% vs Florida 一 38-24 loss
- 36% vs Georgia 一 41-17 loss
Since the start of last season, Hooker has been sacked on 32% of his dropbacks versus pressure, by far the highest rate in the SEC (next worst: 25%, Mississippi State’s Will Rogers).
The Florida defense appears capable of replicating last year’s performance, based on its 41% pressure rate against Utah.
Final Thoughts on Florida vs Tennessee Best Bets
Florida cruised to a 38-14 victory in this game last year, so the double-digit spread is a bit of a surprise.
The Gators did make a coaching change and had significant turnover on offense, but the majority of the defense 一 which held the Vols to their lowest scoring output of the year 一 returns.
I don’t have a ton of confidence in Florida given Richardson’s volatile performance this year, but if I have to take a side in this matchup, I’m definitely taking the points.