Gators Fire McElwain: Buy Opportunity or Fade City?

Jason Lake

Wednesday, November 1, 2017 1:28 PM UTC

Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017 1:28 PM UTC

The Florida Gators let head coach Jim McElwain go on Sunday. Will they be a strong college football pick under interim coach Randy Shannon or is it already too late?

Free NCAA Pick: Gators +3.5Best Line Offered: Heritage

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Pretty much everything went wrong for Jim McElwain this year. His Florida Gators were supposed to contend for the SEC title and a spot in the College Football Playoff; instead, their roster was gutted when nine players were suspended for their roles in an alleged credit card scam. Add a long list of injuries and a 3-4 record (2-5 ATS), capped off by a 42-7 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs, and presto – the Gators fired McElwain on Sunday.

This could be a “buy low” opportunity for sharp bettors. Interim coach Randy Shannon is already making changes on his staff, and at quarterback, where Malik Zaire appears to be getting the nod for Saturday’s game (noon ET, ESPN2) against the Missouri Tigers. Will these changes be enough for the Gators to get over the hump as 3.5-point road dogs on the Week 10 NCAAF odds board?

Shannon Doubtery

The math already looks pretty good for Florida. The usual computer projections will be thrown out of whack by all those suspensions, but if we go by the Simple Rating System at Sports Reference, it looks like Florida (+4.66 SRS) “should” be favored over Missouri (–0.95 SRS). And according to ESPN’s Brad Edwards and Seth Walder, the Tigers play minus-0.77 Points Above Expectation at Memorial Stadium. Let’s see, carry the one ... call it Florida –3.5.

There are extra problems for Shannon to deal with this week. Starting RB Malik Davis (6.7 yards per carry) is out for the season after messing up his knee in that Georgia game. And we don’t know for sure whether Zaire will actually replace Feleipe Franks at quarterback. Shannon says it’ll be an open competition between the two, so we’ll see what happens. At least they’ll be motivated.

And motivation is very much the key for Saturday’s college football picks. Reports from Gainesville say the players are bringing energy to practice, with nothing but good things to say about Shannon. It might only be a short-term tonic, but in this specific situation, at these odds, we’ll roll with the Gators against a Missouri team that hasn’t done much to impress at 3-5 SU and 4-4 ATS.

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