College Football Week 1 Previews and Predictions: Bowling Green vs. (23) Florida

Defensive Tackle Sharrif Floyd and The Gators will seek their 23rd consecutive opening day win against a heavy underdog Bowling Green team.

Bowling Green vs. (23) Florida
Game Time: Saturday, Sept 1st, 3:30 PM EST
TV: ESPN, ESPN U
Betting Line: FLA -28.5

Betting Odds from Bovada

Bowling Green

Bowling Green returns an outstanding 20 starters. That includes third year starter QB Matt Schilz, who threw for 3,000 yards last season for a Falcons team that went 5-7 and posts a 3-5 record in the MAC.

They also return leading rusher sophomore Anthon Samuel, who ran for 844 yards last year as a true freshman. He also had five 100+ yard games and five TDs in nine games. Samuel was held out of spring ball with a wrist injury, but is expected to be fully healthy for Saturday’s matchup against the 23rd seeded Gators. Sophomore Jamel Martin will be able to backup Samuel should he be reinjured or if he needs more time to reach full strength.

College football oddsmakers don’t think that will make much of a difference for the Falcons, setting them as underdogs to the tune of four-plus TDs.

The OL had trouble staying healthy last year, so that will be a key to the Falcons reaching the 7-5 projected record by Athlon magazine. They have a lot of capable linemen though, and five of them started at least six games last year.

WR could be a problem because they graduated six wideouts. Junior Shaun Joplin is the lone returning player who could actually make a big difference. The passing offense was okay last year, with the Falcons ranking 5th in the MAC with 261 yards per game. Their total offense ranked 6th in yardage with 384 per game. Michigan transfer Je’Ron Stokes had only three receptions in two years with the Wolverines, so his impact may be minimal, while Alex Bayer will get his fair share of receptions at TE, with 20 last year as the main starter.

Florida

The Gators are expected to win their 23rd consecutive season opener this year as heavy favorites against a much smaller school and less regarded program in Bowling Green. They began last season with four consecutive victories, but then dropped their next four, playing four teams that were all ranked in the top 25 (Bama, LSU, Auburn, and Georgia).

The Gators foxed only 14 turnovers last season, tying Notre Dame for the 8th fewest in the nation. Only six fumbles were recovered, with the other eight turnovers forced having been pass interceptions.

Coach Will Muschamp said “You never put last season behind you.” But the Gators must, as they are predicted by Athlon to improve on last year’s record with a 8-4 projected record by Athlon magazine. They close the season out against big time rival Florida State, in Tallahassee. That road game will serve as a great primer to whatever bowl the Gators end up getting invited to.

The Gators will be missing some players though: Ronald Powell is out for the first month; DL Nick Alajajian is gone for the year; Kedric Johnson is out indefinitely; De’Ante Saunders is suspended for the first two games; Colin Thompson is out for two months; and OL Matt Patchan and Tommy Jordan will miss the game with minor injuries as well.

The Gators are going to alternate QBs Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel in an attempt to settle a QB controversy. Both will have to master a new offense brought in by Boise State coordinator Brent Pease. The Gators ultimate key to success, however, will be in their running game. Last year, the Gators ranked 5th in the SEC in rushing with 132.7 yards per game, and that just isn’t good enough. TB Mike Gillislee and an experienced and good OL should help improve that figure.

WR is a bit of a question mark too…Andre Debose must fulfill his high potential.

The Gators fans are aching for a return to the glory days and Muschamp promises “It’s coming.” Being nationally ranked is a start, but in Gainesville that just isn’t quite good enough for a fan base that is accustomed to being a BCS contender.

Bowling Green Betting Trends:

Falcons are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games on grass and 6-2 ATS in their last 8 September games. They are 21-9-1 ATS in their last 31 on the road. Over is 5-0 in the Falcons last 5 road games, 5-1 OVER in the last 6 in September, and 4-1 OVER in the last 5 non-conf games.

Florida Betting Trends:

Gators are 6-0-1 ATS in their last 7 September games and 21-6 ATS in their last 27 non-conf games. They are 1-8 ATS in their last 9 games overall and 0-4-1 ATS in their last 5 at home. UNDER is 4-0 in Gators last 4 non-conf games and OVER is 4-1 in Gators last 5 home games.

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