Florida Gators Win Total: o/u 9 wins
Dan Mullen and the Gators had one of the most high-powered offenses in College Football in 2020 but ended the season with three straight losses to LSU, Alabama, and Oklahoma. Despite climbing all the way to 3rd in the national polls, the season ended as Dan Mullen’s least successful in Gainesville, which is something Florida fans should be excited about. Mullen’s success with quarterbacks like Tim Tebow, Dak Prescott, and Kyle Trask last season have created high expectations for junior Emory Jones entering 2021.
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Florida took the Crimson Tide down to the wire in the SEC Championship Game a season ago, trading blows with the Tide’s record-setting offense. Both teams replace a majority of the skill players from that game, with 9 total first and second-round NFL draft picks having moved on from the combined offenses. Alabama breaks in new starters at quarterback, running back, and wide receiver, as well as first-year offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. BetOnline has the Tide as a 13.5 point favorite in what is sure to be a hot and muggy afternoon in The Swamp.
At LSU (10/16)
The Tigers pulled off an unlikely upset in 2020 that ultimately ended the Gators’ chances at making the College Football Playoff before their matchup against Alabama in Atlanta. An untimely shoe toss by a Florida defensive back gave LSU the yardage needed to get out of Gainesville with a rare win in 2020. This season LSU is trying to right the ship after their championship hangover, and the oddsmakers at BetOnline have the betting line set at -2.5 in favor of the Tigers at home.
Georgia (10/23) Jacksonville, FL
The game, known as the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party,” floods Jacksonville with fans from both sides in a rivalry that turns heads annually. Since 2008 the teams have alternated three-game win streaks, and Florida looks to keep that trend going after notching a win over the Dawgs in 2020. Kirby Smart’s team looks to find an offensive level that’s been missing in his time in Athens as quarterback JT Daniels picks up where he finished the 2020 season.
Massive sophomore tight ends Arik Gilbert, and Darnell Washington should make life a little easier on Daniels, as will running backs Zamir White and James Cook. BetOnline has this line favoring Georgia by 8 points to kick off the season.
Quarterback Emory Jones comes in with high expectations despite limited playing time in his first few seasons. He offers Dan Mullen more of a dual-threat option than Kyle Trask did a season ago. Along with Trask leaving for the NFL, all-world tight end Kyle Pitts and wide receiver Kadarius Toney were first-round draft picks this past spring. All of Florida’s rushing leaders return from a season ago and will likely be relied upon more this season than in 2020 when the group ranked near the bottom of the SEC.
On the defensive side of the ball, the front is led by pass rushers Brenton Cox Jr. and Zachary Carter, who led the Gators in sacks last season. Leading tacklers Ventrell Miller and Mohamoud Diabate also return to anchor the linebacking core, and safety Kaiir Elam, a first-team SEC standout from a season ago, leads the secondary. The experience on defense may be needed to let the newcomers on offense find their groove early in the season.
Under 9 wins.
All three major Sportsbooks (Bovada, BetUS, BetOnline) have the line set at 9 wins. Bovada and BetOnline lean towards the under with odds of -130 each, while BetUS has the odds more even at -115 in either direction. The three matchups listed above, along with road tests at Kentucky and Missouri, create a difficult schedule for an inexperienced Gators offense to navigate. Dan Mullen has proven he can put a winning offense on the field, so the learning curve may not be as steep as this prediction is planning for, which could swing the chances to the over.
Florida SEC East Champions
Georgia enters the season as the heavy favorite to win the division at -450, but the Gators could pull an upset in Jacksonville and make their way to Atlanta for a second straight season. Bovada has Florida’s odds at +500 to win the division, which provides great value.
Florida to make the College Football Playoff
The Gators are still looking to reach the postseason tournament for the first time since its inception in 2014. Bovada has their odds at +1200 to open the season, and the Gators could have two paths to getting there. The most obvious would be winning the SEC.
Alternatively, the Gators could make the playoffs without playing in the SEC Championship Game, similar to Alabama in 2017. A win over Alabama or Georgia during the regular season would help their case even without a conference championship under their belt.