Vegas expert: Florida-Alabama would be closer than you think
We already know Florida will be playing for the SEC championship on Dec. 5 in Atlanta.
The Gators locked up the East division this past weekend, but they likely won’t know their West opponent until the end of November.
As it stands, Alabama is the front-runner. The No. 2 Crimson Tide own a head-to-head tiebreaker over LSU and can punch a ticket to the Georgia Dome by winning out.
Easier said than done, especially with road trips to Starkville, Miss. and Auburn forthcoming. But smart money sits on ‘Bama over remaining contenders LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State.
So, if Alabama and Florida do meet up, which team would be the favorite? The answer is obviously Alabama at this juncture, but we asked VegasInsider.com senior handicapper — and Florida grad — Brian Edwards to break it down further.
“Florida’s defense — which I think is right there with the top three or four in America — is why (the betting line) would, in my mind, be a single-digit number,” Edwards said. “I could not go as high as 10 for Alabama unless Florida continues to be inept offensively in the next few weeks.”
Edwards said he would currently handicap this matchup at Alabama -8 or -8.5.
He noted that Florida’s offensive incompetence is the primary reason for the Gators’ potential struggles against ‘Bama, adding that Alabama’s offense is not “as elite as some ones we’ve seen in the past.”
“What they did to (LSU running back Leonard) Fournette the other night shows that their defense is one of the greatest they’ve had under Saban,” Edwards said.
For those interested in an over/under, Edwards said it’s going to be low. Very low.
“If there are no big plays on special teams, and both teams play turnover-free football, I would think Florida could score 14 max on Alabama,” he said, putting the projected over/under at “40 or 41.”
Edwards thinks most books would have Alabama as a 10-point favorite or more at this point.
But Florida would put up a better fight than that.
“I’ve watched every play all year, and this Florida defense is legit,” he said, pronouncing the last word ‘LUH-jit’ for emphasis. “I think Florida would be very game defensively against them, and if they can force some third-and-long situations, I can see them getting after (Jake) Coker from a pass rushing standpoint.”
The schools developed an intense rivalry in the early ’90s, when Florida coach Steve Spurrier got the better of ‘Bama and Gene Stallings by winning three of their four meetings in the first five SEC title games.
Last season, the Crimson Tide whipped the Gators 42-21 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Florida has not beaten Alabama in four tries since the 2008 SEC title game.