Florida’s season has been a bit all over the place this season, picking up a huge opening win against then-top 10 Utah, and following that up with a frustrating loss the following week while playing host to Kentucky. USF’s year has been a bit more predictable so far- they got steamrolled by a ranked BYU team, and then returned the favor in a domination of FCS Howard.
Let’s go take a look at the odds for this Sunshine State battle, and make some picks
Florida Vs. South Florida Odds
Florida are currently favored by 24.5 points, not a shocking number despite their record, given the caliber of opponents they’ve faced. The points total for the matchup is set at 58.5, again a pretty unsurprising line there. Will the Gators chomp away with ease this week, or will they get the horns when they mess with the Bulls?
Florida Vs. South Florida Prediction & Pick
Well I’ll tell you one thing about USF securing a matchup with the Gators- it’s sure to ruffle some feathers over in Orlando, where rival UCF has been trying to play Florida for years and has received the cold shoulder from their SEC in-state neighbor. But it’s easy to see why Florida would rather play USF than their chief rival, this game is looking like a very comfortable win. USF are coming off a dreadful 2-10 season, and this year figures to be more of the same. After throwing just a total of six touchdown passes as a team last season, an unfathomable total in this day and age of college football, the air attack needs to do far more this year.
That hasn’t happened so far, as the Bulls have thrown for just 391 yards so far, and are still waiting on their first score through the air. The other side of that coin is that the run game has been stellar, racking up the third-best rush EPA/play of any team in the country. That being said, they won’t be able to simply run the ball downhill against a team like Florida and expect to be competitive; QB Gerry Bohannon and co. are going to have to make something happen in week 3.
Florida have had an interesting start to Billy Napier’s first year in Gainesville, playing two high-profile games en route to a 1-1 start. Similarly to USF, but in much less extreme fashion, the Gators offense has been able to get it going on the ground, but not as much through the air, even with NFL hopeful QB Anthony Richardson at the helm. The defense was a bit rough last year, but outside of the linebacking corps there are a lot of returning pieces and optimism for improvement. Even so, their biggest weakness last year, run defense, has plagued them so far this season as they’ve allowed 150 ground yards per game, albeit on only 3.9 yards per carry, and it is worth noting that last year’s number was 163 yards per game, so there is some improvement so far.
Overall, Florida, for all of their flaws, should not have much issue with a struggling USF team, and I really like them to come out looking for a solid win and cover the 24.5 point spread. I also like the over in this game a lot; USF’s offensive strengths align well with the weaknesses in Florida’s defense, and the Gators attack should be able to score as much as they want.
Florida Vs. South Florida Key Matchups
Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Florida vs South Florida below.
Florida Rushing Defense vs. USF Rushing Offense
One of the keys in determining whether or not the Gators will be able to turn this into a legitimate laugher will be whether their sometimes-shoddy run defense will be able to stifle USF’s solid ground attack, and force them to the air. Florida’s front seven are anchored by a trio of Jalen Lee at nose tackle, Gervon Dexter at one of the ends, and versatile edge player Brenton Cox. They’ll be looking to slow down Jaren Mangham, who ran for just short of 700 yards last year, but was extremely opportunistic as he racked up 15 ground scores. He’ll be complimented by Kelley Joiner, who also had a solid campaign, and look to form a strong 1-2 punch with Mangham against the Gators.
Anthony Richardson vs. USF Secondary
After an eye-opening game against Utah, many people are asking the same question of Anthony Richardson regarding his Kentucky performance- just what exactly was that? While he was the trendiest name in the country after week 1, Richardson threw two picks against Kentucky, and is still in search of his first touchdown pass of the year. He also failed to remotely recapture the electrifying rushing aspect of his offense from opening day as he put up just four yards on six carries against the Wildcats. So it’ll be interesting to see how he responds against a Bulls defense, whose secondary is a relative strength.
They’re headlined by redshirt senior safety Mekhi Lapointe, the team’s leading tackler so far who has also registered an interception already. Cornerback talent Daquan Evans will also look to do more, after not registering a pick last year. Lastly, Richardson’s athleticism and passing game will both be countered by veteran linebacker Dwayne Boyles, who has the speed and football IQ to make Richardson’s life hard at multiple levels of the field. This week is a great opportunity for Richardson to get back on track, but the task is not one to be taken lightly.