A top-25 battle between a couple of SEC teams gets the marquee game tag on the Week 4 college football betting card, and we’ve got a free pick for the matchup between the Tennessee Volunteers and Florida Gators.
Saturday, September 24, 2022 – 03:30 PM EDT at Neyland Stadium
It’s a collision of ranked teams now, but neither the Florida Gators nor the Tennessee Volunteers were listed in the preseason top 25 polls, and each would love to hold the ground they’ve gained in what amounts to an SEC September playoff game this Saturday in Knoxville.
This is the 52nd meeting in the rivalry, and it takes place on the final Saturday of September, with Florida looking to prove it’s the team that posted the mild upset in Week 1 over Utah while Tennessee looks to validate its claim as a legitimate challenger to Georgia in the SEC East.
Vols Burdened with Double-Digit Chalk
The top online sportsbooks seem to agree that Tennessee is more of a challenger to Georgia than Florida is as strong as it showed to begin the campaign, and have installed the Volunteers as favorites of 10½-11 points, with the total at 62½-63.
Florida Has Dominated Rivalry in Last 30 Years
When you consider Florida and Tennessee have each called the Southeastern Conference home for the last 90 years, you might think they should have played more than 51 times entering the contests this weekend.
But that is the case, and it comes from the Gators and Volunteers appearing on each other’s schedule very sporadically until 1990, when the rivalry really took off with annual matchups.
This has been one of those rivalries that, regardless of the rankings or the NCAA football odds, Florida just seems to have Tennessee’s number by winning the last five meetings, and 16 of the last 17, to build a 31-20 advantage in the series.
Florida coasted to a 38-14 triumph last year down in Gainesville to cover as an 18-point home favorite, and it was a similar score when the Gators and Volunteers met in Knoxville two years ago. The last three meetings failed to reach the totals.
Gators Survive in Close Call with South Florida
A win is a win, even when it’s an ugly win, and that’s what Billy Napier’s Gators got last Saturday at home in a 31-28 nail-biter against the South Florida Bulls who were getting more than three touchdowns from the sportsbooks.
South Florida missed a field goal in the waning seconds – set up by a Florida turnover – that would have sent the two Sunshine State foes to overtime, and it was a Bulls interception that directly led to the Gators’ winning score with just five minutes remaining in the game.
The narrow victory over South Florida followed a 26-16 loss at home to Kentucky in a game that the Wildcats scored the final 19 points, with their final score coming on a pick 6 thrown by Florida’s Anthony Richardson, who has been intercepted four times in the last two contests.
Vols Unbeaten on Gridiron and at the Window
We were impressed a couple of weeks ago when Josh Heupel took his Tennessee team on the road to then-No. 17 Pittsburgh and came back home to Knoxville with a 34-27 overtime win that was just enough to cover as 6-point road chalk.
The Volunteers backed that up with a 63-6 trouncing of Akron last week – their second such rout of a MAC team this young season – that left them 3-0 both straight up and against the spread.
Tennessee is among the nation’s top teams in scrimmage plays of 20+ yards, reeling off 20 of those in three games with 11 plays of 30+, but that has led to a problem of sorts with the Volunteers down near the bottom of the NCAA football stats in time of possession.
Florida Could be Without ‘QB of Defense’
The Gators had to make a go of it last week without middle linebacker Ventrell Miller, who Napier called the “QB of our defense,” last week due to a lower-body injury, and the Florida native is questionable for this game.
Can Tennessee Snap Skid vs. Florida?
Heupel pointed out that the loss to Florida a year ago was one that ended up having a positive effect on his team, and instead of being down after watching the Gators score the final 28 points of the contest, the Volunteers used it as momentum.
The OddsTrader computer has Tennessee as a 44-26 winner, which might be a little too generous but still prompts a play on the Vols.
NCAAF Pick: Tennessee -10½ (-108) at FanDuel