Florida vs. Tennessee Picks, Odds: Can the Vols Keep it Close in the Swamp? (Saturday, September 25)
Kevin Langley/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Velus Jones Jr.
- Florida Gators. Tennessee Volunteers. The Swamp.
- Florida will look to get back in the win column on Saturday after a tight loss to Alabama last week.
- Doug Ziefel breaks down the matchup and shares his top betting picks and predictions below.
Florida vs. Tennessee Odds
|Florida Odds||-18 (-120)|
|Tennessee Odds||+18 (+100)|
|Moneyline||-1250 / +750|
|Over/Under||65 (-115 / -105)|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.|
We’re going back to “The Swamp” in Gainesville as the Tennessee Volunteers travel to face the Florida Gators as heavy underdogs on Saturday.
The Volunteers are coming off a trouncing of Tennessee Tech. Second-string quarterback Hendon Hooker shined, leading the team in both passing and rushing yards. As Joe Milton III is still on the mend, Hooker will look to prove the job is his for good in this matchup in Gainesville.
The Gators have to be coming into this one disappointed by losing to Alabama but proud of a late comeback that made it a 31-29 game.
The Gators hold a great historical advantage coming into this one, as Florida has gone 4-0 straight-up and 3-1 against the spread against the Vols under Dan Mullen.
Will history repeat itself, or is Tennessee primed to change it?
Florida vs. Tennessee Betting Preview
We already discussed just how potent the Volunteers rushing attack can be, well the Gators may be even better.
Florida is gaining 7.6 yards per carry this season. That, like Tennessee, comes from many different members of the backfield. The two lead backs — Malik Davis and Dameon Pierce — have combined to rush for over 6.5 yards per carry and seven touchdowns. They were both factors into the Gators’ finishing drives against Alabama.
If all this is impressive let’s not forget about their leading rusher and the biggest X-factor: Anthony Richardson.
Richardson, who did not play against Alabama, has been incredible this season. As the backup quarterback, he is averaging 25 yards per rush and 17 yards per completion.
As of Wednesday, Richardson is going for an MRI on his hamstring but will be “ready to go,” according to Mullen. If he does play it will be a huge boost as he did this on a “bad hamstring” last week in warmups.
Um, this is Anthony Richardson on a BAD hamstring 😳
— 247Sports (@247Sports) September 18, 2021
The reason why Richardson hasn’t been anointed the Gators’ starting quarterback yet is Emory Jones, who has been underwhelming, to say the least.
Jones has completed 63% of his passes and has thrown five interceptions. What keeps him trotting out with the first team is his experience and dual-threat ability. Jones leads the team with 42 carries and has rushed at over 5.5 yards per attempt.
With Richardson healthy, though, Jones’ leash may get shorter, especially if the turnovers continue to be an issue.
The strength of the Gators’ defense is the defensive line. Florida’s pass rush ranks 18th in the nation and 29th in Line Yards.
Zachary Carter has been an absolute menace for opposing offenses as he’s recorded three sacks and seven tackles for loss. This Volunteers offense will be a different type of challenge for this defense, though, as they rush at a fast pace while also limiting Havoc offensively.
The Volunteers offense has been a juggernaut on the ground this season. The rushing tandem of Tiyon Evans and Jabari Small has combined to rush to over 4.8 yards per carry.
Hooker makes the rushing attack even more dynamic since he may be more mobile than Milton. He’s also been far better in the passing game as he’s completed 70% of his passes and has thrown five touchdown passes.
This Volunteers offense presents a unique challenge with a pace that is unmatched. Tennessee is the fastest team in the nation in terms of plays per minute. That combined with the varied rushing attack wears down defenses, and the Gators may be the next team to succumb to it.
Metric-wise, the Vols’ defense pops off the page. It ranks third in Defensive Havoc, eighth in big plays allowed, and 14th in Rushing Success.
Tennessee’s schedule has been easy this season, aside from a matchup with Pittsburgh. In that one, the Vols did exceedingly well against the rush, holding the Panthers to 2.1 yards per carry.
We know Pitt is built to throw the ball and they fared pretty well against the Vols. Quarterback Kenny Pickett threw for two touchdowns and 285 yards as he led a double-digit comeback.
Fortunately for the Vols, the Gators are going to play to their defensive strength as they have a rush rate of just over 60%.
Florida vs. Tennessee Matchup Analysis
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Tennessee Offense vs. Florida Defense
Florida Offense vs. Tennessee Defense
Pace of Play / Other
The Gators are the superior team overall, but the Volunteers can expose some holes. The Volunteers’ rushing attack will wear down the Gators’ defense over the course of the ball game.
On the other side of the ball, the Volunteers will have to game plan for Richardson.
He has already shown the ability to break a game open and the Volunteers’ pace could backfire by having Richardson on the field too many times.
Florida vs. Tennessee Betting Pick
This number has ballooned after opening at 14.5. Our PRO Projections have this game around 15, which creates significant value in the number currently.
The Volunteers’ rushing attack and great rush defense will keep them in this game.
Take the Vols at anything over three scores.