The Florida Gators look to have another poor offense, which means more work for the defense. Here’s how to profit, bettors.
Unless that 20 points fourth quarter in last week’s miraculous 26-20 walk-off win over Tennessee sparked a fire under head coach Jim McElwain’s Florida Gators offense, it looks like another abysmal season for scoring points. The elite defense will carry the load yet again. How can bettors use this imbalance to profit? Fading the Gators in the second half of games for your in your college football picks might be a good spot. Here is why.
Let’s look at some numbers. Firstly, defense wins for Florida, plain and simple. The Gators are 19-0 SU and 12-6-1 ATS when holding teams to 24 points or less in McElwain’s tenure; 1-9 SU and 2-7-1 ATS if allowing more. The offense cannot catch up if needed, period.
This year’s unit looks even less dangerous with redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks under center. The team required more than 7 quarters to generate its first offensive touchdown in 2017: a 5-yard strike from form Franks to Brandon Powell in the final period of the Tennessee win. Overall, the unit ranks 121st nationally in total offense with 286 yards per game. Ouch. The squad is young, but fans should expect better form third-year offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier. His leadership is the longest running the offense since Dan Mullen (2005-08).
What does this mean for the defense? More work. Opponents own a 55.2 time of possession percentage against the Gators to begin the year, ranking 104th nationally. This leads to tired legs, extra penalties, and more miscues for the unit late in contests. It also means more points allowed. The Gators have surrendered 37 second-half points to 16 in the first half this season. This is a good indicator for fading Florida in live betting after halftime.
Sportsbooks do not post a second-half line for every Gators tilt, nor is the line data complete in our database, but here is a generic way to show Florida is a poor second-half team. If you take the closing line and divide it by two, Florida has covered that spread just 8 times after halftime in 29 contests under McElwain, whether a favorite or underdog. This includes bettering a -1 second half line with last week’s 63-yard Hail Mary winner—the first time in program history beating an opponent with a touchdown on the final play of regulation, by the way. Now, this formula does not accurately represent the line bettors will see in-game, but it gives you an idea that the Gators underperform and possibly play below the number late.
McElwain recognizes the offense lacks explosiveness and can barely sustain drives, especially versus better SEC defenses. If nursing a halftime lead, play calling grows more conservative with the defense usually in need of rest. If trailing, the offense does not have enough firepower to pull ahead. Overall, the second half sets up for a tight contest in most Florida games, making for a good fade opportunity depending on the line.
The Gators opened 4.5-point favorites at Kentucky this Saturday, a program they beaten 30 straight times. The win record, in fact, is fourth most over an opponent in an uninterrupted series in college football history. It’s typically a huge mismatch on paper. Since 1980, however, the matchup has kicked off with a line under a touchdown three times. Each was settled by 5 points or less, the Wildcats winning the second half 6-0 in the last one in 2015.
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