This Saturday the No. 18 Florida Gators (3-1) will host the Arkansas Razorbacks (3-2) in a cross division matchup at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 EST and will be televised nationally on ESPN2. The Gators are a perfect 8-0 vs Arkansas as inside conference play with the most recent victory coming 23-20 at home back in 2009. Oddsmakers currently have Florida listed as a 11-point home favorite with the total set at 43 points.
Why Arkansas Will Cover:
The Razorbacks have lost back-to-back games since opening the season at 3-0, but there’s plenty of reason to be excited about the direction this team is headed under first year head coach Bret Bielema. Arkansas gave a highly ranked Texas A&M team all they could handle at home last week. The Razorbacks trailed just 20-24 at the half and were down just 33-38 at the end of three quarters. They would end up losing 33-45, which was a marked improvement from last year’s 48-point loss to the Aggies.
It hasn’t taken long for Bielema to turn Arkansas into a force on the ground. The Razorbacks torched the Texas A&M defense for 246 yards on 45 attempts and come into this game ranked 36th in the country with an average of 211.3 ypg. The ability to run the football sets up a very favorable situation to back Arkansas. Road underdogs who feature an excellent rushing offense (averaging 5.25 or more rushing yards/carry) are 27-7 (79.4%) ATS after gaining 6 or more rushing yards/attempt last game over the last 5 seasons.
Road underdogs who feature an excellent rushing offense (averaging 5.25 or more rushing yards/carry) are 27-7 (79.4%) ATS after gaining 6 or more rushing yards/attempt last game over the last 5 seasons.
One of the key things to keep in mind in this game is that Florida doesn’t feature an explosive offense. The Gators have reached the 30-point plateau just once this season and are currently ranked 93rd in the country with an average of just 23.8 ppg. Arkansas’ defense didn’t play all that well against Texas A&M, but are still ranked 31st in total defense, giving up just 336.4 ypg. You also have to take into consideration that Florida starting quarterback Jeff Driskel is out for the season. While backup Tyler Murphy has played well in his place, Arkansas’ defense should be able to key in on stopping the run.
It’s going to take a big time performance from both sides of the football for Arkansas to win this game, but you have to like their chances of keeping it close. I could easily see the Razorbacks covering here with just 13-17 points.
Why Florida Will Cover:
The Gators only loss on the season is a 16-21 defeat at Miami. If it wasn’t for the fact that Florida committed 5 turnovers against the Hurricanes, they would be sitting at 4-0 and possibly a bigger favorite than what we see them at right now. I really like the way the Gators responded to that loss to Miami, as they came out and took care of business at home against Tennessee and on the road vs Kentucky.
It can be hard to lay double-digits on a team like the Gators who really struggle to put up points, but when you have a dominant defense like Florida it’s definitely doable. Arkansas is just 1-8 ATS in their last 8 road games and are 0-10 ATS in their last 10 following a home game the previous time out. Adding to this is the fact that Florida is a solid 8-3 ATS in their last 11 home games vs a team with a winning road record.
Arkansas is just 1-8 ATS in their last 8 road games and are 0-10 ATS in their last 10 following a home game the previous time out.
No team in the country has been better at stopping the run than the Gators, who come in allowing just 53.5 ypg. What’s even more impressive is that the most rushing yards they have allowed all season is 66 to Tennessee. That’s pretty impressive considering they faced Miami’s Duke Johnson. As good as Arkansas has been running the football, I just have a hard time seeing them having a big day on the road.
I’m also not convinced the Razorbacks are as good defensively as the numbers would indicate. A big reason why they are ranked so highly in total defense, is because of three easy non-conference home games against Louisiana-Lafayette, Samford and Southern Miss. If you just look at their last two games, they allowed 399 yards to Rutgers and 523 to Texas A&M. That’s certainly enough to make me believe the Gators can put up 24-30 points, which should be enough to cover.
Early Lean – Florida -11
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