Pigskin showcase 2007: Florida Gators betting preview
2006 overall record: 13-1 straight up (SU), 5-8 against the spread (ATS)
2006 SEC record: 8-1 SU, 2-7 ATS
The SEC was losing its bowl season battle with the Big Ten before the Florida Gators pounded Ohio State in the BCS Championship game last January. Florida entered the title game as a 7-point underdog to the then-undefeated Big Ten champs but won 41-14 by holding the Buckeyes to 82 yards of offense.
The win gave Florida 13 wins against only one loss, a 27-17 defeat at Auburn when the Gators had been 2 ½-point road favorites. The SU record left fans in a state of rapture, but backers were regularly let down by the school’s poor ATS showing.
The title means even less friendly lines in 2007. Florida is a football factory, one of a handful of schools who reload rather than rebuild, but the Gators lost more talent than most teams could dream of fielding in the first place.
The quarterback position is all Tim Tebow’s. We know he can move the pile in short-yardage running situations and has arm strength to spare. The question bettors need answered, however, is whether Tebow can run Florida’s spread as efficiently as Chris Leak did last season. Tebow’s high school numbers were awesome, but he won’t be facing high school defenses this season.
He’ll have lots of help from his receiving corps, led by burners Andre Caldwell and do-everything sophomore Percy Harvin. SEC defenses are esteemed for their collective speed, but no one in the conference can stop this pair in one-on-one coverage.
Tebow might be operating behind the SEC’s top offensive line as well, a unit returning four starters from last year’s championship squad.
Holes and who’ll fill them