Florida vs. Tennessee Odds, Picks: The Team Total to Bet in Week 4’s SEC Rivalry
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Hendon Hooker (Tennessee)
Florida vs. Tennessee Odds
Two SEC East programs are scheduled to battle once again after starting this rivalry in 1916. Florida holds a 31-20 all-time lead on Tennessee, with a bulk of those wins coming over the past two decades.
The Volunteers have won this head-to-head just once since the 2004 season. Head coach Josh Heupel knows the gravity of the series, citing that emotions will be high to run out of the "T" after the Vol Walk.
The Volunteers are perfect in the record book so far, winning and covering games against Ball State, Akron and Pittsburgh (in OT).
The up-tempo offense has become one of the best in the nation under the tutelage of their head coach and former Heisman winner.
While the offense has been high-flying, the number of penalties continue to build (eight per game).
Meanwhile, Florida head coach Billy Napier is treating the trip to Knoxville as just another road game.
Florida coach Billy Napier on QB Anthony Richardson’s 1st SEC road start at Tennessee: “It's not like we're going to Canada & they're going to change the rules. It's going to be the same game. It's going to be a little louder & played at a different location”
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) September 19, 2022
Napier is off to a 2-1 start in his inaugural year in Gainesville. A plethora of ground weapons has left the passing game short through the first quarter of the season.
This will be the Gators' first trip on the road, as they've beaten South Florida and Utah at home, but suffered a defeat to Kentucky. The Wildcats may have laid the blueprint for how to defend the skill-position players on the Florida offensive side, and the Florida defense is struggling to find stops.
The center of the universe on the Florida offense is quarterback Anthony Richardson.
After rising up the Heisman board to 20/1 after a victory against Utah, the third-year quarterback has been in steady decline from the national picture. Richardson has failed to top 165 passing yards in any game, and continues to make mistakes.
He has four interceptions on the season, but even more eye opening is his Big Time Play ratio. Richardson has committed six Turnover Worthy Plays and recorded zero Big Time Throws. With only four drops on the season from 76 passing attempts, there is plenty of work to do in the Gators' passing game.
Anthony Richardson?????????? pic.twitter.com/wE8rxSAYVj
— 𝗙𝗢𝗟𝗟𝗢𝗪 @𝗙𝗧𝗕𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗱𝟳 (@FTBeard7) September 18, 2022
The great news for the Florida faithful is the ability of the quarterback to make plays on the ground — both on scrambles and designed rushing attempts.
A trio of running backs have made this a top-25 team in terms of Rushing Success Rate and Line Yards. Specifically, Trevor Etienne has produced six explosive runs on 23 carries with an average of 3.6 yards after contact.
Co-defensive coordinators Patrick Toney and Sean Spencer have been lackluster in getting the Gators to produce stops through three games. Florida allows 21.7 first downs per game with no resistance in standard or passing downs.
The Gators are 117th in Line Yards against the rush and 123rd in pass rush. Their Havoc ranking is in the bottom 15 of FBS teams, as they've recorded a single fumble and only 11 tackles for loss.
Plenty of investors will be deterred in betting a Tennessee total under after the late-game shenanigans against Akron. With a total of 67 on the game, the Volunteers ran a 12-play drive ending in a touchdown with less than a minute to play, sending the total game points to 69.
Although trends are never a huge part of the handicap, Heupel has now gone over the total in eight of 10 home games as the Tennessee head coach.
The Volunteers move at one of the fastest paces in the nation, averaging 20.5 seconds per play.
Virginia Tech transfer quarterback Hendon Hooker took over starting duties early last season and has given Heupel the offense desired in Knoxville.
Tennessee is top-20 in Success Rate and seventh in Finishing Drives. In 22 drives beyond the opponent 40-yard line, Tennessee averages 5.7 points per trip.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) September 18, 2022
Hooker has committed just one Turnover Worthy Play against eight Big Time Throws this season. The quarterback saw blitz on 20 drop backs against the Havoc-minded Pitt defense, resulting in no mistakes and an uptick in his adjusted completion percentage.
A victory here will start the Heisman hype, as LSU, Alabama, Kentucky and Georgia are all on the schedule for the Vols through the next six weeks.
There are injuries to watch for this game, as second-leading rusher Jabari Small and leading target wide receiver Cedric Tillman are both questionable.
If those players are out, a defense that has been stingy in allowing points must step up to the plate.
The Volunteers have been excellent against the rush, fielding a top-30 rate in Line Yards and Rushing Success Rate. The coverage and pass rush has been a liability through the first three games, but a rank of 11th in Defensive Finishing Drives has assisted Tennessee in all three covers this season.
Linebacker Aaron Beasley leads the team in tackles and missed tackles, a key angle to watch against Richardson.
Florida vs. Tennessee Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Florida and Tennessee match up statistically:
Florida Offense vs. Tennessee Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Tennessee Offense vs. Florida Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||37||55|
|Seconds per Play||26.6 (69)||20.5 (6)|
|Rush Rate||56.3% (50)||56.2% (51)|
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
Florida vs. Tennessee Pick
South Florida lost to Florida by just a field goal, but the game was possibly the best the Bulls have played in Jeff Scott's tenure. A bad hold on a field goal — along with a botched snap — were contributors to the South Florida loss to the Gators.
The Bulls ended the game with a 73% post-game win expectancy, beating the national average in Passing Downs Success Rate.
Dating back to the Dan Mullen regime, Florida has covered just one game in the past 10. That cover came against a Utah team that failed to score at the goal line twice, including a Cam Rising interception to end the game.
The big question is if defensive coordinator Tim Banks will move to more zone coverage. Kentucky had plenty of success in grounding Richardson from explosive plays in zone coverage.
The Volunteers pivot between a 4-2-5 and 3-3-5, generally in man-to-man coverage. Safeties Trevon Flowers and Kamal Hadden have played in zone coverage in just 25% of opponent drop backs this season.
If Richardson is allowed to create explosives off man coverage, there is still the issue of scoring opportunities for the Gators on both sides of the ball. Tennessee is top 11 in points per opportunity on both offense and defense, while Florida is 59th and 84th, respectively.
The Action Network projection lines this game at Tennessee -5.5 and with a total of 68.5.
Injuries to Tillman and Small might not limit the Tennessee offense, as Jalin Hyatt has been lethal from the slot, posting 3.1 yards per route run on 22 targets this season.
Ramel Keyton is set to bust out with more targets, averaging 4.4 yards per route run on six catches from the wideout position.
There is no expectation that the Florida defense will be able to limit what Heupel wants to do from a tempo and scoring perspective.
Tennessee has a long history of losing in this series, and if Heupel is running through Akron with less than a minute in the game, then there is every expectation the Volunteers will look to score as much as possible after last year's embarrassing loss.
I'm avoiding the handicap of the Tennessee defense in man coverage against Richardson, so the Volunteers team total is the investment.