Florida Gators vs. Toledo Rockets +24
The Florida Gators open the 2013 season having had 9 months to think about how last season ended. While 2012 was a great season for the Gators (even by Florida standards), they finished the year getting demolished by upstart Louisville in the Sugar Bowl. The same team that beat Texas A&M, LSU, South Carolina and Florida State – but failed to show up for the majority of its stay in New Orleans – opens 2013 with a visit from the Toledo Rockets.
Toledo travels to Gainesville looking to make the jump from “decent MAC team” to “possible top 25 team” in the season ahead. Following a successful 10-4 season (albeit ending with an embarrassing loss to Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl), the Rockets are poised to light up the scoreboard yet again. Running back David Fulellen returns for his senior year and will be joined by veteran quarterback Terrance Owens to form a duo that should create havoc for opposing defenses in the MAC.
Unfortunately for Toledo, they’re not facing a MAC defense in week one. Despite losing three terrific players to the NFL, the Gators defense is stacked – especially up front. The Gators were fifth in the nation in team defense a year ago and should see similar production this year with Ronald Powell returning after missing last year due to injury providing another speed rusher off the end.
Unfortunately for Florida, they still have a long way to go on offense in order to finish on top of the SEC. Quarterback Jeff Driskel has yet to live up to his recruiting hype and he lacks playmakers at wide receiver to stretch the field. The running game has been steady if nothing else, but the Gators need several big play threats to really become dangerous.
What will happen: Florida opened up with a MAC school a year ago (Bowling Green) and failed to cover the spread in a lackluster 27-14 win. Toledo has shown it can hang with the big boys going 3-0 against the spread in the last three seasons against Arizona, Ohio State and Purdue. Florida has a huge edge on defense and should be able to slow down Toledo’s productive offense, but will Florida have their heads in the game a week prior to a showdown with rival Miami? Florida coach Will Muschamp will most likely keep things conservative in hopes of not tipping his hand with anything fancy in preparation for Miami. Muschamp is also 1-6 against the spread as a double digit favorite. Look for the Rockets to keep it close and cover the line.
Prediction: Florida 31 Toledo 17
The Play: Toledo +24
2013 ATS Record: 0-0