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SEC Upset Special: Florida vs. Florida State

GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 09: Will Muschamp, head coach of the Florida Gators, watches action during a game against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 9, 2013 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

For this week’s SEC Upset, I am picking against a team that I still feel is vulnerable, even at home. That team is Florida State, and I think Florida is a good pick on rivalry weekend. First of all, there’s the fact that Florida State has won by only a combined seven points in its last two games; against teams that shouldn’t be hanging around with a playoff team.

Then there’s the fact that Florida is playing much better with Treon Harris at quarterback and are 3-1 since making that switch.

 

Florida’s Defense Will Force Turnovers

The Gators get a ton of slack about their offense, but Muschamp’s squad is still very talented defensively. Florida is 23rd in the nation in scoring defense, only allowing 20.9 points per game, and I think they can force Jameis Winston into making mistakes in this game.

Winston has thrown more interceptions than touchdown passes in November, and he has 13 interceptions on the season. The quickest way to stay out of interception trouble is to establish the run game, but Florida State won’t be able to consistently do that on Saturday.

Florida is underrated defensively and has a chance to force turnovers from Jameis Winston on Saturday. (Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports)

Florida is underrated defensively and has a chance to force turnovers from Jameis Winston on Saturday. (Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports)

The Noles are averaging about 30 rushing yards less per game at home this season, and the Gators are physical up front. Opponents are averaging only 3.02 yards per rush attempt on Florida, and that unit has given up only 10 rushing touchdowns all season.

We could see Winston put into passing situations early in this game, which could lead to turnovers.

 

Florida’s Run Game

The Gators don’t have a vertical passing attack with Harris at quarterback right now, but they have been successful running the football. They throttled Georgia on the ground in a blowout victory, and I think they will find that same type of success on Saturday.

Florida State is not terrible against the run, ranking 43rd in the nation in rushing defense, but Florida will make it a point to run the ball in this game. The Gators are averaging 4.47 yards per attempt and the three-headed attack of Harris-Jones-Taylor can be hard to stop.

Florida RB Kelvin Taylor (Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports)

Florida RB Kelvin Taylor (Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports)

Other Notes

-When a team is given more than a touchdown in a rivalry game, it is an attractive pick for me. This is the same reason I like Michigan and Auburn to also win with the points this weekend. Florida has won 7 of the last 10 in this series, and the Gators won the last time they visited Tallahassee.

-The red zone will be where this game is won or lost for both teams. The Gators are 6th in the nation in red zone offense, scoring on 36 of their 39 trips. On the other hand, the Seminoles are tied for 8th in red zone defense, so that could be an interesting matchup.

-The Gators are 3-1 in games played on the road or at a neutral site.

-The Noles obviously have a ton to play for, but I wouldn’t underestimate the motivation level for the Gators. It’s a rivalry game for starters, but I also think these seniors want to send Muschamp out on a high note.

Conclusion

Florida State has made it a habit of winning close games, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they pulled this one out as well. I think Florida has a great chance at handing Winston his first collegiate loss, but I like them to win with the points either way. Good luck with your picks this week, and hopefully I have showed you why Florida can pull off the upset.

Florida State 28, Florida 27

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