Tradition-Rich Football Schools to Meet in Citrus Bowl: Florida vs. Michigan Picks

Joe Gavazzi

Tuesday, December 22, 2015 6:52 PM GMT

Today, we look for a defensive battle between a pair of tradition-rich football schools. As the Citrus Bowl will host a top match with Florida vs. Michigan, check our college football pick inside.

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College Football Pick: Florida +4.5
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

 

Florida vs. Michigan 1:00PM ET 
Though no long range weather forecast is available for this game at this writing, the assumption is for good weather in Orlando on January 1st. This is the 2nd Bowl game of the day and the 2nd meeting of Big 10 vs. SEC. The Florida Gators line up against the Michigan Wolverines for this 1:00 ET. Michigan is a 4- point favorite in the contest. Each of these teams made remarkable strides with new coaches in out-performing their records of the previous 2 seasons. Today, we look for a defensive battle between a pair of tradition-rich football schools. 

 

Betting Preview
The Brady-Hoke era ended in Ann Arbor with a run of 4 years in which the Wolverines recorded fewer victories in each season. The nadir of their discontent came in 2014 with a 5-7 SU ATS record. It was at that time that the call went out to Jim Harbaugh, a Michigan alumnus, from the middle ‘80s. In his most recent 4 seasons at the helm of the San Fran 49ers, his teams won 49 games. On the heels of successful seasons with the San Diego Chargers and Stanford, his hire was a no-brainer. Harbaugh returned his Wolves to the concept of strong running game and staunch defense.  There were rewards early on for the Michigan faithful. After dropping a 7 point opening night decision as 6 point dog at Utah, the Wolves reeled off 5 consecutive victories in which they outscored the opposition 160-14.  It looked like a 6th straight victory was in the offing before the last second Michigan St. miracle resulted in a (27-23) rivalry loss for the Wolves. Though “undefeated letdown” did not result, the Wolves were clearly not the same defensive team down the stretch. They allowed 170 points in the final 6 games an average of 28 PPG, which was far from the defensive dominance in the first half of the season. A 42-13 thumping by arch-rival Ohio St. concluded the season.

Florida made a remarkable turnaround under 1st year HC McElwain. The former OC at Alabama had just completed a remarkable turnaround at Colorado St., in which he lifted the Rams from 4 to 8 to 10 wins. He quickly answered the call to return to the SEC after the 4 year Will Muschamp experiment resulted in a combined record of 11-13 SU the previous 2 seasons. With only 10 RS, it appeared as if there might be a needed honeymoon for the Gators. But, McElwain began to work his magic immediately, positing a strong 10-3 SU, 8-4 ATS record in his maiden voyage. The 3 losses were to SEC powers LSU, Alabama (in the Championship Game), along with a season-ending rivalry loss to Florida St. by a count of 27-2.  Though the offensive magic has not returned in the first year under McElwain, the Gators clearly qualify as a Super D, allowing just 17/295/4.5, including 121/3.4 overland. 

 

Final Analysis
Key to this selection comes in 3 forms. The SEC pedigree with Florida as underdog, the role of Florida as a Super D dog and perhaps most importantly, the great value that has accrued in this line as a result of the linemaker’s first 6 weeks over-adjustment on the Power Rating of Michigan, who would have actually been a TD underdog at the beginning of the year in this game.  I invite you to put the college football odds in your favor and make this huge value play on the Florida Gators as my college football pick in the Citrus Bowl.