Vols/Gators’ Over/Under Line At 53.5?

SS FOOTBALL VIEWS GRAPHICMaybe this is one of THOSE games.

The kind of game that looks like it’ll be a 14-13 struggle only to turn into a high-scoring shootout.  Those games happen in reverse, too.  For all the world it looks like two high-powered offenses will score, score, score.  Only they don’t, don’t, don’t.

Hey, there’s a reason I don’t (often) bet on football.

But if you know someone in Vegas, call them this week and have them put a little of your cash on the over/under line for Tennessee’s visit to Florida.  Remarkably, it’s 53.5.  Personally, I think 5.5 would be closer to the mark, so 53.5 is a “must play” under.

Tennessee has played one FBS foe with a winning record this year (Oklahoma).  The Vols maxed out at 129 rushing yards, 125 passing yards and 3.34 yards per play.  They scored 17 points in regulation.

Florida has played one FBS foe with a winning record so far (Kentucky).  The Gators topped out at 120 rushing yards, 125 passing yards and 4.15 yards per play.  Florida scored 14 points in regulation.

Toss in the fact that Florida’s defense looks very good and that Tennessee’s has looked pretty good (considering the quarterbacks they’ve faced) and this game looks like it will be a repeat of last season’s 10-9 affair.  But let’s say the teams some how make it a 21-17 game.  That’s still just 38 points.  Here’s another way to look at it — a 28-24 game would still make you money if you bet the under.  And unless the game goes into overtime, I don’t see either inconsistent offense putting up those kinds of tallies against solid defenses this weekend.

Curt Maggitt’s absence will leave quite a hole along the Vols’ defensive line.  He’s the team leader and he’s a proven pass-rusher.  He will definitely be missed.  But will be missed so much that Florida will roll up enough points to push the total points above 53.5?

And let’s say the Gators stumble and Butch Jones’ team has a breakthrough performance.  How big could UT’s point total possibly be?  Here’s how many points Tennessee has put up in Gainesville since the end of the Peyton Manning era: 17, 23, 13, 20, 7, 24, 34 and 21.  The 34-point night in 2001 helps bring the average up to 19.8.  If UT scores 20 on Saturday, Florida would still need to score 34 to spoil your O/U bet.

Again, maybe this is one of those games that turns out to be nothing like we expect.  But the odds are in favor of these two squads scoring fewer than 53.5 on Saturday.

Don’t blame me if you lose some cash, but I’d be putting a little bit on that line.  And I’d be betting the under.

(In case you’re wondering, the actual line opened at Florida -3.  As of Tuesday morning it sits at 1.5 at the MGM properties, 2 at Wynn Las Vegas and 1.5 at the Stations Casinos.)

— John Pennington


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