Florida-Tennessee Betting Odds, Preview: Take the Points in Low-Scoring Game?

Sep 21, 2018 11:04 AM EDT
  • Florida and Tennessee will kick off at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday night in Knoxville, Tenn., where the Gators are a 4.5-point betting favorite.
  • Both teams have new head coaches and really need a win before the schedule becomes more challenging.
  • Here's what anyone betting the game needs to know to bet Florida-Tennessee.

Florida-Tennessee Betting Odds

  • Betting Odds: Florida -4.5
  • Over/Under: 44.5
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN

The stakes have changed between rivals Florida and Tennessee as they get ready to play on Saturday.

This game used to set the pace for the race in the SEC East. Now Florida and Tennessee are battling for a jump start as they both rebuild and try to catch up to Georgia.

This game offers a close matchup between two teams with plenty of similarities, and they’ve matched up awfully close the last few years.

Here’s a look at some of the factors that will decide Saturday’s game, plus my pick.

Quarterback Play

Both schools have redshirt sophomore quarterbacks trying to grow in new offensive systems.

Feleipe Franks has struggled at times in Dan Mullen’s offense, but it’s early, and he has the support of his head coach. Let’s see how much Florida asks of Franks, whom the Gators will try to help by running the ball.

Jarrett Guarantano hasn’t been asked to do much in Tennessee’s offense through three games. He’s managed the offense well, which has led to a high completion percentage (72.2%) and no turnovers so far.

Coach Jeremy Pruitt’s message to Guarantano has been clear: “Don’t hurt us.” But will Guarantano get a chance to help Tennessee this week?

Both teams have offensive playmakers who could thrive if the quarterbacks are given time to get them the ball.

They’ll just need help from the offensive line. So…

Who Controls the Line of Scrimmage?

Florida was the expected answer during the preseason. Experience returning on both sides of the ball was supposed to be an advantage for the Gators.

But then Kentucky ran for 303 yards in its upset of Florida in Week 2, leading to plenty of questions about its defense.

Mullen said after the loss to Kentucky that he counted 20 missed tackles, which helped create an extra 168 yards of offense for the Wildcats.

Tennessee would love to duplicate Kentucky’s success on the ground, but the Vols’ offensive line must first improve. Tennessee has struggled with its run blocking; running behind left tackle Trey Smith might be the Vols’ best bet.

What about Florida’s offensive line? The Gators are still waiting for all that experience to develop into a trustworthy group. Using Franks’ legs could help the Gators’ rushing attack, which won’t have the services of talented running back Malik Davis, who broke his left foot last week against Colorado State.

Another year, same questions for both Florida and Tennessee: when will the offensive line get better?

While each team would love to have success running the ball on Saturday, it’s difficult to know how much it will matter.

That’s because the team that rushes for the most yards has lost this matchup each of the last four years.

Watch for Big Plays

Kentucky’s three offensive touchdowns against Florida came on plays of 24 yards or longer.

Florida’s defense will need to tackle better and eliminate those explosive plays. The Vols’ receivers, along with running back Ty Chandler, who broke off an 81-yard touchdown run last week against UTEP, are capable of making defenders miss.

Tennessee’s defense was hit hard by big plays in its season-opening loss to West Virginia. Will Grier threw three touchdowns of 28 yards or longer against Tennessee, and Franks has the arm strength to attack this defense deep if the Vols’ young secondary has someone out of position.

Pruitt, who calls Tennessee’s defensive plays, will likely try to catch Franks off guard by disguising the Vols’ defense. That could lead to big defensive plays for Tennessee.

Pruitt will just need to make sure his own players are ready to handle the calls. Otherwise, the Gators will find room to run on offense.

Bet to Watch for Florida-Tennessee

The uncertainty on both offensive lines could cause this to be an ugly, low-scoring game, but both teams are capable of creating scores through defense and special teams. That makes this low over/under a pass for me.

Florida has dominated this series in the win/loss column, but the games have been close recently.

In the last four meetings, Tennessee has one win and three losses by a combined eight points. While they’re underdogs, the Vols will have a home crowd on their side with the 1998 national championship team being honored during the game.

The similarities between these two teams point to another close game.

Take Tennessee and the 4.5 points at home.

Credit:

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Dan Mullen

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SCHEDULE
OPEN
CURR
# BETS
BSU
UNM
62.5
+21.5
63
+19.5
PSU
RUTG
48.5
+26
50
+28
ARK
MSST
45.5
-18.5
46.5
-21
CIT
BAMA
60.5
-51
61.5
-51.5
OSU
MD
58
+17.5
58.5
+14
NW
MINN
51
+3.5
47.5
-1
IDHO
FLA
59
-39.5
60
-40
MTSU
UK
45
-13
46.5
-16
UTAH
COLO
48.5
+7
48
+7
USU
CSU
68
+26
68.5
+28
SYR
ND
62.5
-10
65.5
-10
BC
FSU
49.5
+1
49
+1.5
WVU
OKST
69.5
+5
73.5
+4.5
MASS
UGA
62
-44
66
-41
IND
MICH
53
-27.5
53.5
-28
ORST
WASH
57.5
-31
58
-33.5
DUKE
CLEM
58
-27
57.5
-28.5
RICE
LSU
51
-44
52
-41.5
KU
OKLA
68
-34.5
69
-36
CIN
UCF
59.5
-8
60
-7
ISU
TEX
51
-3
46.5
-2.5
ARIZ
WSU
60.5
-10
62.5
-9.5