This is a great chance for Jeremy Pruitt to reward Phil Fulmer for his trust. Pruitt was at least the Tennessee Volunteers sixth choice to be their next head coach, and there are many around the program who still wonder whether or not he was the right pick. Fulmer seemed to settle on Pruitt just to end the nightmare that Tennessee’s coaching search had become, and the new coach is not in the most comfortable situation. However, a win over the Florida Gators at home in Week 4 of the season would endear him to fans. Florida has dominated Tennessee over the last two decades so beating the hated Gators would be huge.
This matchup in Week 4 will take place on Saturday, September 22, 2018, at 7 p.m. ET at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee.
College Football Odds at BookMaker.eu
Florida opened as a 4.5-point favorite per the NCAAF betting odds in this game, and it has largely stayed there. There was a brief dip down to 4 on Wednesday morning, but it has since risen back up to 4.5.
The total has slowly crept downwards. The CFB betting odds originally had the total for this rivalry at 48.5, but that has moved down to 46.5 over the past 48 hours.
Player to Watch
The Volunteers had no passing game in 2017. Tennessee used three different quarterbacks over the course of the season, and it quickly became clear that Butch Jones had not found a successor to Josh Dobbs. No quarterback threw for more than 1,000 yards during the season and all three combined to throw for just 11 touchdowns all year.
Jarrett Guarantano entered the season as Tennessee’s top returning quarterback, but many believed that grad transfer Keller Chryst would start. The two were listed as co-starters before the start of the season, yet Guarantano has won out thus far. Chryst has attempted just four passes all year, while Guarantano has been the starter in all three games.
Guarantano has put up good numbers, but he has not been asked to do much. The Volunteers have been cautious with him, and he is averaging just 18 throws per game. He likely needs to do much more against a Gators defense that will be geared to stop the run.
Dan Mullen is one of the better offensive minds in the game. He was Urban Meyer’s offensive coordinator back when Florida was the best team in the nation, and Florida finally brought him back this season after years of success turning around Mississippi State.
The Gators are looking for Mullen to do the same things in Gainesville that he did in Starkville. Florida has talent on the roster, and it is experienced. All but three of last year’s 22 starters returned to the team this season, but it has taken some time to install his system.
Feleipe Franks does look better than he did in 2017 though. Franks looked shaky and did a lot of checking down behind a mediocre offensive line last year, but he is getting rid of the ball faster and the threat he poses running the ball has helped open up defenses. He already has as many touchdowns through the air this year as he did in 2018, and that’s on a third of the passes.
Mullen had some success cracking Pruitt’s defense last year when Pruitt was the defensive coordinator at Alabama, and this time he has a talent advantage over his coaching counterpart.
Free ATS Pick
I don’t have a lot of faith in Tennessee. The program seems destined to slide into a funk due to instability, and there’s a reason why Pruitt has not been a head coach before this year. I think Mullen will outcoach Pruitt to give Florida a nice road win.
College Football Odds: Florida 31, Tennessee 17
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