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Oklahoma-Florida Sees Historic Line Movement Ahead of Cotton Bowl

Oklahoma-Florida Sees Historic Line Movement Ahead of Cotton Bowl article feature image

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: Kadarius Toney, Florida Gators

  • Cotton Bowl odds have moved in a historic way between Florida and Oklahoma with many Gators missing.
  • See how the initial news of Kadarius Toney and Trevon Grimes skipping the Cotton Bowl impacted the line.
  • Read about the other instances where lines moved more than a touchdown in Bowl games.

What started as a line move following opt-outs has turned into something historic between the Oklahoma Sooners and Florida Gators in the Cotton Bowl.

Florida opened as a 3-point favorite and stayed there, occasionally dropping to 2.5 up until this week.

Tight end Kyle Pitts had opted out before the line was released. But then wide receiver Trevon Grimes announced he would skip the game to focus on the NFL Draft. Receiver and special teams extraordinaire Kadarius Toney soon followed, and that’s when the movement really began.

First it dropped to a pick’em, then settled in a flip with Oklahoma listed as the 3-point favorite. The next jump moved Oklahoma to -4.5 and hours before kick-off Oklahoma can be found as high as a 9-point favorite.

Tonight’s Cotton Bowl will be just the fourth bowl of the last 15 years to move more than a touchdown between opening and closing lines.

Syracuse was a 7-point underdog against West Virginia in the 2018 Camping World Bowl but closed as a favorite when Mountaineers quarterback Will Grier and left tackle Yodny Cajuste sat out to prepare for the NFL Draft. Syracuse won, 34-18.

In 2016, Oregon-TCU opened as a pick’em in the Alamo Bowl before it was announced the Horned Frogs would be without receiver Josh Doctson and quarterback Trevone Boykin. The line ballooned to 8.5 and Oregon responded with a 31-0 halftime lead. But without quarterback Vernon Adams Jr., who was injured in the second quarter, the Ducks were shut out in the second half and eventually lost, 47-41, in triple overtime.

Finally, in 2007 Kentucky flipped the line on Florida State, closing as a 7-point favorite when an academic scandal left the Seminoles without 36 players. Out of 85 scholarship players, Florida State sent just 43 to the Music City Bowl. The biggest name missing was cornerback Patrick Robinson. Kentucky won, 35-28, resulting in a push.

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Florida’s losses are certainly significant.

Toney, a senior, has 70 catches for 984 yards and 10 touchdowns on the year. He caught 8 passes for 153 yards against Alabama in the SEC title game.

Grimes caught 38 balls for 589 yards and 9 touchdowns.

What does this mean on the field for Florida?

From our college football expert Collin Wilson:

Kadarius Toney’s departure leaves Florida without its biggest third down, play action and screen pass target on the team. His departure, along with Trevon Grimes, will leave a huge hole for Trask to fill. No other player remaining on offense has more than 13 targets on third down or on passes over 20 yards.

There are other areas where this will impact the game, such as special teams and defensive assignments for Oklahoma’s defense.

It gets worse, as Florida’s No. 3 receiver Jacob Copeland also announced he’ll miss the game due to COVID-19.

Four defensive starters are also expected out, according to Brett McMurphy. 

While there’s been speculation on quarterback and Heisman finalist Kyle Trask, nothing’s been made official.

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