SEC Showdown: Week 3 Betting Preview, (18) Florida Gators vs. (23) Tennessee Volunteers

Tyler Bray has been one of the best QBs in the nation through two weeks.
Florida (18) vs. (23) Tennessee
Time: 6 PM EST, Saturday, Sept 15
Spread: TENN -3
Total: 48
M/L: TENN -150, FLA +130

Betting Odds from Bookmaker


The Gators face a crucial SEC rival game this week against the Tennessee Volunteers. They took care of business against two both Bowling Green and Texas A&M in weeks one and two, winning the games by a combined 20 points. Last week against A&M was a scare, though, as they won by just a field goal. Ranked 24th last week, they won after trailing at the half, the first time they had done so under Will Muschamp.

Mike Gillislee ran for 83 yards and two TDs, as the Gators shut down A&M in the second half. The Gators trailed 17-10 at the half, but they forced punts on the first six A&M possessions in the second half. Muschamp attributed more discipline to the improvement.

Jeff Driskel struggled for most of the game, but came through big with a 39 yard completion to Omarius Hines in the fourth quarter, which drove it deep enough for Gillislee to run it in for a score that ended up being the difference maker, putting the Gators up 20-17.

Driskel said the atmosphere at halftime wasn’t defeatist. “We were really composed…no one was pointing figures…We knew there was a whole other half to play.” Muschamp attributed the improvement to a better control of the line of scrimmage, something the Gators will try to focus on to pull the slight upset of three point favorite Tennessee, who finds themselves favored by college football oddsmakers, despite being ranked slightly lower in the polls.

Muschamp knows Gators fans are impatient, but improvement should come this season. Athlon magazine predicts a modest improvement for the Gators, with a projected 8-4 record and a winning 5-3 record in the SEC. The season will end with a real bang as the Gators travel to their biggest rival Florida State on November 24th. The LSU game is on the 6th of October, and will serve a a great measuring stick for Muschamp to see how his team stacks up against a BCS contender and conference rival.


Tennessee has been pretty dominant so far. They won by 14 in week one against NC State and hammered Georgia State 51-13 last week. Their 43 points per game ranks 15th in the nation, while they rank even higher in passing yardage (9th) with 353.5 yards per game.

From my season preview:

The Volunteers return one of the most experienced OLs in recent history, with 99 starts between them, which is quite an improvement from the three starts combined prior to 2010.

QB Tyler Bray is one of 18 returning starters and the 6’6? QB has the size and strength to stay tough in the pocket until he settles on a receiver. He’s best in the pocket but has show decent scrambling abilities so far.

At TB, the Vols will use a combination of Rajion Neal, Marlin Lane, and Devrin Young.

At FB, they will use Ben Bartholomew.

Tennessee is loaded at wide out. They have Justin Hunter returning from ACL injury, but will miss All SEC pick Da’Rick Rogers, who failed a drug test, was indefinitely suspended, then transferred to Tennessee Tech. However, they’ll be bringing aboard the #1 JUCO prospect in Cordarrelle Patterson. TE Michael Rivera will be back, as will Cameron Clear, who has the size to be make a difference as a sophomore.

At LT, they will use Antonio “Tiny” Richardson and Dallas Thomas will slide to left guard. Ja’Wuan James is going to start at RT and they have four veterans coppering for two spots at center and right guard.

Tyler Bray has been every bit as good as billed, with a QB rating of 194.8. He’s completed 73.8% of his passes and has six TDs, while having thrown not a single interception.

Lane and Young have rushed for a combined 224 yards, with Lane accounting for 106 of them only 17 carries (6.2 yards per carry). Neal has accounted for three TDs, however, while Lane has none.

One of Bray’s main receiving targets has been junior WR Justin Harper, who has 219 yards and three TDs on 17 receptions. Last year, he caught 17 passes in total.

Fellow Junior Cordarrelle Patterson has also caught nine passes for 164 yards and a TD. As I mentioned in the season preview, he is a JUCO transfer, so there was no precedence at the NCAA D-1 level for his success, but it hasn’t been a surprise, because he was the No. 1 JUCO wide receiver.

Betting Trends:

Gators are 7-1-1 ATS in their last 9 in September. 3-7 ATS in their last 10 vs teams with winning home records, 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 after allowing < 20 points in previous game, 0-6 ATS in their last 6 vs teams with winning records.

Volunteers are 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 after scoring 40+ points. 0-7 ATS in their last 7 vs teams with winning road records and 0-4 ATS in their last 4 after accumulating 280+ passing yards in previous game. They are 1-6-1 ATS in their last 8 conference games.

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