The Tennessee Vols and Florida Gators are set to square off Saturday night at 7:00 pm ET in Gainesville in one of the SEC’s most intriguing early season matchups. Coming off an 11-2 2022 season and with big-armed Joe Milton under center with plenty of weapons at his disposal, the Vols were installed as 7.5-point favorites when the game lines first came out back in May.
But the path to get there has been rather wild, at least as far as the consensus line from Vegas. The line leapt to Vols -9.5 during the Florida-Utah game on Thursday, 8/31. That was likely the result of both bets on UT and the immediate perception that the Gators were not very good. Falling into a 24-3 hole against Utah’s backup quarterback will do that, I suppose.
But the line gradually shifted back towards Florida, as it dropped to -8.5 by the conclusion of last week’s games and has gone on to drop a full 3 points over the last 6 days. That’s a pretty big movement, which means a lot of tickets on the Gators. It shows a belief in what this series has been often times over the last decade: a nail biter.
It’s also understandable to hit the Gators plus the points because Tennessee’s passing attack simply hasn’t looked right this year. Milton has misfired far too often, and UT’s wide receivers seem downright average through two games. Add in a fired-up Florida team at home under the lights behind 90,000+ screaming Florida fans, and it’s not surprising why professional bettors are getting down on the Gators.
However, if Tennessee’s offense can get out of its funk, there’s every reason to believe they can not only win, but also win by more than one score. The Vols have the offensive line (including center Cooper Mays), running backs (including Jaylen Wright and his 9.3 ypc), and scheme to run the ball effectively, as they have done very well this month. They also seem to have the best overall depth and talent at their two deep on the defensive line under Josh Heupel. As such, the Vols could control the line of scrimmage on Saturday.
If they can, and if the Vols can find a way to win by more than one score for only the second time since 1955 (24-10 in 2003), then Tennessee will be poised to wipe out a lot of tickets put on the Gators.
And make some sportsbooks very, very happy.