Pressure’s growing on Florida to start winning more consistently. While it’s sometimes difficult to get off the mat in the mighty SEC, the Gators have a prime opportunity to improve their fortunes this week. Next up is a home date with Vanderbilt.
No surprise, Florida (-18, -110) is heavily favored according to NCAAF spreads. The Gators are -1100 on the moneyline, while the Commodores are +18 (-110) on the spread and +700 to pull off the upset. Meanwhile, the projected total is 52 (-105 Over, -115 Under).
Can the Gators take care of business? Let’s dive into this NCAAF matchup and offer our Florida vs Vanderbilt best bets.
Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium; Gainesville, Fla.
Streaming: SEC Network
The Vanderbilt Commodores have lost their last seven games against the spread, including all six this NCAAF season. They’re also 2-4 ATS in their last six games against Florida. The total has gone Over in five of Vanderbilt’s last six games. The Florida Gators, meanwhile, are 1-5 ATS over their last six games, including 1-4 this season. The total has gone Under in six of the Gators’ last nine contests. That’s important to remember when assessing our Florida vs Vanderbilt best bets.
More of the Same for Vandy
The Vanderbilt Commodores have now lost four straight after a 2-0 start and remain winless in SEC play. The Commodores are coming off a 38-21 loss to No. 23 Missouri, in which they were gouged for 532 total yards. A 14-point underdog, the Commodores dropped to an FBS-worst 0-6 ATS. Only three other schools — Georgia, Illinois and UTSA — have failed to cover at least once this season.
Vanderbilt has struggled mightily, especially on the defensive end. It’s already allowed 200 points in six games, third-most in the country behind UMass (235) and Hawaii (208). Each of the Commodores’ last four opponents scored at least 36.
To make matters worse, there is no quick fix. This is who the Commodores are. Head coach Clark Lea has his work cut out for him. Keep in mind, Vanderbilt hasn’t had a winning record since 2013, James Franklin’s final season before leaving to coach Penn State. Vanderbilt’s last bowl appearance was in 2018.
As such, expectations for Vanderbilt were low. The Commodores were projected for only 3.5 wins, easily the lowest in the SEC. While they’ve already gotten close after beating Hawaii and FCS product Alabama A&M, the Commodores may have trouble topping that total. They’re almost certain to be an underdog in every NCAAF game remaining.
Further complicating matters, Lea has yet to decide on a quarterback for Saturday. AJ Swann came into the season as the starter, but after throwing seven interceptions over his first five games and injuring his elbow, he was replaced by Ken Seals against Missouri. Seals, a senior, wound up throwing for 259 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception on 20 of 31 passing. Regardless of who starts, this is a situation to avoid. Keep that in mind when contemplating your Florida vs Vanderbilt best bets.
Pressure Growing on Florida
Billy Napier’s seat is growing hotter by the day after a 33-14 loss to Kentucky dropped the Florida Gators to 3-2. A 1-point underdog, Florida fell behind 23-0 in the second quarter and finished with only 313 total yards. In the process, they dropped to 1-4 ATS, the third-worst mark in the SEC behind Vanderbilt and Georgia (0-4-1).
Oddsmakers were skeptical of Florida, projecting the Gators for just 5.5 wins. Still, outside of an upset of then-No. 11 Tennessee, their start’s been a tad underwhelming. After all, two of their three victories came against FCS school McNeese and Charlotte.
The Gators are led by former Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz, who’s thrown for 1,220 yards and six touchdowns compared to two interceptions in his first five starts. He’s been highly efficient, completing 79.1% of his passes. That’s the second-highest completion rate in the country behind Oregon’s Bo Nix (80.4). Still, the Gators are averaging only 25 points per game, a total that’s a bit swayed by their 49-7 romp of McNeese.
What’s the upside here? The Gators have made five consecutive bowl games, and this year should be no different. There are enough winnable games remaining on the Gators’ schedule, starting with Saturday. That said, they still do have to play No. 1 Georgia, No. 23 LSU and No. 3 Florida State.
Handicapping the Game
Vanderbilt might be the worst team in the SEC. It’s that bad. Its defense has been putrid, and there’s uncertainty at quarterback. And things aren’t likely to get better anytime soon.
While Florida has been a bit underwhelming, this is a classic get-right opportunity for Napier and Co. The Gators are far more talented and shouldn’t have any issues in the Swamp, especially with Mertz under center. After an up-and-down career at Wisconsin, he’s settled in nicely at quarterback.
Look for the Gators to win and cover at home against the lowly Commodores.
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