Florida Vs. Oregon State Las Vegas Bowl Odds, Picks, Predictions (12/17/22)
One of my very favorite things about College Football is bowl season. Aside from the fact that we get almost nonstop action, which is a huge plus in and of itself, it gives every team at .500 or better something to strive for, a positive way to end the season. Oregon State is already feeling great after picking up a huge rivalry win against Oregon to wrap up the regular season, now ranked all the way up at #14 they’re looking to secure their first double-digit win season since 2006, and just the third in school history. Florida has had a rough go of it to start off the Billy Napier era, but they can top last year’s campaign by finishing over .500 and taking home a bowl win. Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks!
Florida Vs. Oregon State Odds
Oregon State are two-score favorites this one, with the line set at an even -10. The scoring total is an intriguing 52.5, it could turn into a tough line to call in the always-unpredictable bowl setting.
Florida Vs. Oregon State Prediction & Pick
What at first looked like a promising season for the Gators has spiraled into another display of general mediocrity. They played well in their final regular season game and could very well have picked up a huge morale win against rivals Florida State, but ultimately came up short- feels like something of a metaphor for the season overall. Still, there’s no reason why it can’t end on a sweeter note with a win in Vegas. If the Gators do get the job done, it’ll have to be without star QB Anthony Richardson, who has opted out of the contest in order to prepare for the NFL Draft.
The Beavers, on the other hand, have blown through the expectations set by most in the media and beyond. While many imagined they’d hover right around bowl eligibility, they sprinted right past and are ranked pretty well in the CFP committee’s final rankings of the season. Oregon State also defied expectations on a weekly basis, as they covered the spread in 10 of their 12 regular season games, making them the most profitable Power 5 team against the spread. Unlike Florida, they actually did manage to end the regular season on the highest of notes by mounting a major comeback to top their eternal in-state rival, the Oregon Ducks. Still, there’s more work to do; securing a bowl win would put them in rare territory amongst the Beavs teams of years past, and could even vault them into the AP top 10 to finish the season- not too bad of a cherry on top!
In this day and age, bowl levels are notoriously hard to project. All of the opt-outs can leave the teams looking very different than they did all year, and even with the right guys on the field, motivation levels can vary greatly from team to team. So, in addition to some football analysis, let’s take a stab at projecting those tricky intangibles. We’ve got one team who fell short of expectations all year and finished up by losing their big rivalry game, and another who played way over what many thought would have been their ceiling, just had a major rivalry win, and has a chance to make some school history…let’s not strain any muscles evaluating motivation here. The absence of Richardson also doesn’t help Florida, although Jack Miller could have a very nice game in his stead. I’m going to take Oregon State to cover, and I like both offenses to have a big day as players begin to vie for next year’s open starting spots; I’ll take the over too.
Oregon State Rushing Offense vs. Florida Run Defense
At the heart of Oregon State’s success this season has been a healthy dose of ground and pound football, a relative rarity in today’s college football world and especially in the PAC-12. The Beavers ran the ball over 40 times a game at nearly 5 yards per carry, racking up just under 200 yards and almost 3 touchdowns on the ground per game. As is the case with almost any great rushing attack, this was made possible by a great offensive line performance; PFF grades the unit as the 5th-best run blocking group in the country. Left Tackle Joshua Gray led the way with a stellar 85.9 run blocking grade, while the guard next to him and the tackle on the other side, Heneli Bloomfield and Taliese Fuaga, were right behind with grades over 80. It’s a well-balanced front five, and they paved the way for a strong three-pronged backfield. The clear leader in that bunch was Damien Martinez, who averaged over 6 yards a carry and came close to 1,000 rushing yards. He’ll miss this game with an injury though, which means the workload will likely be split evenly between the other two backs who were generally equal producers in the #2 role behind Martinez. These two are Deshaun Fenwick, who scored 7 times on the ground, equal to Martinez’s total, and Jamious Griffin, who similarly to Martinez averaged nearly 6 yards per carry. It’s tough to lose a starter like Martinez, but with an elite line and strong secondary options, I believe that the Beavers’ ground game should be fine.
They’ll be rushing it against a Florida run-stopping unit that was more average than great, ranking 58th in PFF’s rankings, just between Kent State and FIU. To make matters worse, they’ll likely be without a pair of key D-Linemen; Gervon Dexter is opting out, and Jalen Lee has entered the transfer portal. To be totally fair, these two have been on the field, but not necessarily at their best. The class of this group for Florida has been a trio that occupy very different roles; interior lineman Desmond Watson, edge rusher Princely Umanmielen, and off-ball linebacker Ventrell Miller. In addition to being near the top of the snap-count chart for Florida, they were the three highest-graded run defenders on the defense. Watson didn’t miss a tackle all year, and the other two had impressive average depths of tackle, just above and below 2 yards. Unfortunately, Miller is also going to be headed to the NFL, and not participating in this game. This group is a bit top heavy and has lost a little depth; they’ll need a lot out of their top players to contain a very good Oregon State rushing offense.
Florida Passing Game vs. Oregon State Air Defense
Obviously, when one team’s starting quarterback is making his collegiate starting debut, his performance is going to be a huge factor in determining the game’s outcome. For Florida, it’ll be Ohio State transfer Jack Miller. Formerly a highly-recruited high school quarterback, Miller never saw any meaningful time, and hasn’t seen any time whatsoever for Florida thus far, but here’s his chance to prove himself and win the job for next season. In terms of Miller’s targets, wideouts Justin Shorter and Daejon Reynolds will be out of the mix, but the team’s second-leading receiver, Xzavier Henderson, should be returning from an absence due to injury. Of course, not one of these guys caught a pass last game; the only Florida wideout to do so was Ricky Pearsall, who hauled in 5 catches for 148 yards and 2 scores as Richardson put up one of the more bizarre stat lines of the season. Expect Miller to lean heavily on Pearsall as well, especially since he might have less time than usual to get through his reads as Florida’s usually-strong pass blocking unit will be losing star guard O’Cyrus Torrence to the NFL.
Oregon State’s pass defense does not play complimentary football, to say the least. The secondary is really strong, 19th-best in the nation by PFF’s estimation. Meanwhile, the pass rush has not held up its end of the bargain, and sits outside of PFF’s top 100. Unfortunately for Oregon State, top corner Rejzohn Wright is expected to miss the contest due to injury. Alex Austin and Ryan Cooper have only been a touch worse in coverage though, they’ll be tasked with picking up the slack. So will the safeties, highlighted by Jaydon Grant, who tied with Cooper for the team with 3 interceptions, while limiting opposing passers to an NFL passer rating below 50. Safety Kitan Oladepo hasn’t spent a ton of time rushing the passer, but has still racked up 2.5 sacks, just a half below edge rusher Riley Sharp for the team lead. Sharp has made up half of a pass rushing duo that has provided essentially all of the push up front for Oregon State, his counterpart being Andrew Chatfield Jr., who has hurried opposing passers 19 times. It’s a mixed bag for Oregon State in pass defense; they’ll have to expect that their lockdown secondary can thoroughly cover a depleted Florida wideout room.