It's not too often that a game in which one team is favored by more than four touchdowns makes the 'must-see' list, but such is the case of Saturday's SEC tilt in Gainesville between Forida and Tennessee. Heisman candidate Tim Tebow leads the No. 1 Gators against the Vols, but the real excitement here surrounds the two coaches, Urban Meyer and Lane Kiffin. The drama unfolds at 3:30 (ET) on CBS.
Have you been doing the appropriate exercises to keep your TV remote thumb in top shape? You don’t want to get a torn UCL flipping back and forth between these two college football games, both kicking off Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Eastern.
Tennessee at No. 1 Florida
Sat, Sep 19, 3:30 p.m. (ET) CBS
The betting odds have the Gators favored by 30 points against one of the bigger-name programs in the nation, with a total of 53 points. Bettors are almost universally pounding the Over in this matchup, as the public is wont to do. But there are two important things to consider. One, the Volunteers can play defense. Two, they can’t play offense. The under is 17-4-1 in Tennessee’s last 22 games.
If we like the Under, then the official dogma of parlay betting says we should like the underdog as well. And yet it won’t be easy for the Gators to stop at 30 points. They blew out the total of 55.5 points all by themselves two years ago in Gainesville in a 59-20 cakewalk that saw Florida score three touchdowns in the final quarter. There likely won’t be any easing off of the gas pedal this year, either, not after new Vols coach Lane Kiffin accused Gators coach Urban Meyer of recruiting violations on National Signing Day. Kiffin later apologized after getting reprimanded by SEC officials.
But back to that cakewalk. Erik Ainge was the Vols quarterback that day, and he did his part for the cause with 249 yards passing, one TD pass, and one pick. He was replaced last year by Jonathan Crompton; the former Parade All-American made six starts and went 1-5 SU and 2-4 ATS, including a 13-7 stinker at home against Wyoming (+27). The under went 4-1-1 in his six starts and 10-1-1 on the season for Tennessee. The Gators (-7) won last year’s matchup 30-6 in Knoxville, with Crompton providing a pick and a fumble. He turned the ball over four more times in last week’s 19-15 upset by visiting UCLA (+10.5).
Crompton and the Vols might be lucky to score a field goal against the Gators. They have a new 3-3-5 blitz package called the “joker” that emphasizes the pass rush. On the other sideline, Tennessee shelled out big bucks to lure Monte Kiffin away from the NFL to serve under his son as defensive co-ordinator. Kiffin père is the genius behind the Tampa 2 defense and the one ray of hope for Tennessee supporters in this matchup.
No. 19 Nebraska at No. 13 Virginia Tech
Sat, Sep 19, 3:30 p.m. (ET) ABC
From Lane Kiffin, we move to Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, voted the No. 2 “scariest” place to play in a 2007 ESPN.com survey of college coaches – one spot ahead of Florida’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. But the building’s reputation might be exceeding its grasp; the Hokies are 1-5 ATS in their last six games at home versus opponents with winning road records. The Cornhuskers have yet to play a road game in 2009 after going 2-2 SU (3-1 ATS) in away games last year and upsetting Clemson (-2.5) 26-21 at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla.
This is a pivotal game for both teams as they prepare for conference play, and the momentum appears to be on Nebraska’s side. Second-year head coach Bo Pelini has done a masterful rebuilding job of this once-proud program. Pelini was the defensive co-ordinator for the LSU Tigers when they won the national championship for the 2007 season, and he’s assembled a front seven that looks like it’ll be poison to Virginia Tech’s vaunted running game this Saturday. Nebraska also has a new and apparently better offense with first-year starter Zac Lee at quarterback.
It all adds up to a 2-0 SU and ATS start for Nebraska in 2009. Although Lee has yet to face a defense as talented as Virginia Tech’s, the Huskers have excellent betting value as 5-point road dogs, and the under-underdog parlay makes sense here on the total of 51. Consensus reports at press time show 96 percent support for the under in this situation and 58 percent support for Nebraska on the pointspread.