Florida Gators vs. Florida Atlantic Owls
A new era opens up in Gainesville as the Florida Gators host the Florida Atlantic Owls in The Swamp. The Gators are -31 point favorites over the Owls with an over/under point total set at 46.
Will Muschamp takes over the Florida Gators as Head Coach this year and while he comes in as the former Defensive Coordinator at Texas and the supposed “Head Coach in waiting”, he hasn’t been a Head Coach at the college level so there are some question marks as always. Muschamp has brought in former Notre Dame Head Coach Charlie Weis to run his offense and while Weis didn’t have a lot of success running a college program, as an offensive coordinator he showed his worth once again last season as the Kansas City Chiefs made the playoffs after years of suffering and of course his work with the New England Patriots offense is Hall of Fame worthy. At Florida Weis doesn’t have Tom Brady to work with, he inherits John Brantley who is highly touted but didn’t show to be anything special running a Florida offense that in all fairness wasn’t designed for a pocket passer. Brantley rarely threw the ball downfield last season, something that will probably change here. At Running Back Chris Rainey should be an outright star after having muted stats last season that included a five game suspension and the Gators also have the multi-talented Trey Burton who scored every way possible last season. Frankie Hammond has a world of potential at Wide Receiver and on the offensive line there are two returning starters, Joe Halapio and Xavier Nixon but it’s tie for Left Tackle Matt Patchan to prove he is more than just the big hype he was recruited with. The Florida defense is really the bigger question mark as this unit is absolutely depleted with just three returning starters including Jelani Jenkins and Jeremy Brown but the Gators have been one of the best recruiting teams over the years so they should be knee deep in talent on both sides of the ball. Florida lost punter Chas Henry and we can’t understate how big of a loss this is as far as a player who can instantly change field position as well as Henry could.
FAU Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger announced a few weeks back that this would be his last season as a Head Coach and after serving as an Assistant to Bear Bryant for National Championships, Don Shula for the perfect season and two Super Bowls, and as Head Coach of several college programs including the 1984 National Champion Miami Hurricanes, there isn’t much in his career Schnelly hasn’t done. If the Florida Atlantic Owls can put together a few wins that may eclipse everything as Schnellenberger’s biggest career accomplishment, that’s how low the expectations are for this team. FAU was 113th in scoring last season and they were 79th in scoring defense. Graham Wilbert looks to be the new QB but this team will need a monster year from Running Back Alfred Morris if they are to win any games at all. DeAndre Richardson and Marcus Cunningham will be the receivers but Fullback Xavier Stinson is an adept receiver as well. FAU couldn’t stop the run last season and if they don’t stop it again this year they are more than likely going to get run over in most of their games, Kevin Cyrille and Jarvis Givens return on the Defensive Line while Safety Marcus Bartles is the only other defensive starter returning.
Florida is 5-0 against the spread in their last five games against Sun Belt teams, 21-7 against the spread in their last 28 non-conference games, and 6-1 against the spread as a home favorite of 10.5 or more. FAU is 0-6 against the spread in their last six road games, 2-6 against the spread in their last eight non-conference games, and 0-4 against the spread in their last four games against SEC teams.
I am not sure what the odds makers are looking at here as the total just seems at least eight points to the low side. Take the over 46 here.