With the SEC starting up play, college football is officially back. Here is our season-opening preview, as well as our preview & predictions:
The Gators look to build off a solid 2019 season, where they went 10-3 under second-year head coach Dan Mullen. Ole Miss on the other hand, are coming off a disappointing 4-8 (2-6 SEC) campaign that led to Matt Luke’s firing, but led to the hiring of every college frat-boy’s favorite football coach, Lane Kiffin.
Lane Kiffin has had quite the tumultuous career, but after a successful 3-year stint at FAU that climaxed with a 2019 Conference-USA Championship, he’s ready to lead a Power 5 conference team for the first time in almost a decade.
Ole Miss have had surprising success historically against the Florida Gators, with a 12-11 record in favor of the Rebels. That’s a trend Lane Kiffin hopes continues on Saturday, but he knows the difficult task he has in rebuilding the Ole Miss program.
“I think they’ve worked really hard but I still feel like we’re a long ways away from playing”, Kiffinsaid. “That’s just probably because we’re new and didn’t have spring. We’ll do our best”
Not the quotes you want to hear from a coach in the first-year of a massive rebuild, but a realistic take from Kiffin nonetheless.
Gators on the Rise
After taking over for disappointing – and often infuriating – Feleipe Franks (now at Arkansas) last year, Trask stepped up to the plate, having the best season for a Florida quarterback since the Tim Tebow days. He scored 29 total touchdowns and threw for nearly 3,000 yards, completing 67% of his passes. With Tua Tagovailoa, Joe Burrow, and Jake Fromm now out of the mix, Kyle Trask should take the leap and insert himself as a Heisman contender, something the SEC coaches seem to agree with:
Expect Kyle Trask to get off on the right foot on Saturday against an average secondary and paper-thin offensive line.
Odds & Trends
As of this writing, the spread is -12.5 in favor of Florida, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the sharps move this line up to -13 or -13.5, with about 64% of the money going to the chalk.
Florida is 7-2-1 ATS in their last 10 games. Ole Miss is 2-6-1 ATS at home in their last 9.
The Florida Gator defense has a considerable amount of production to replace due to recent departures from sack leader Jonathan Greenard and leading tackler David Reese II. Although I expect these departures to rear their ugly head against the likes of Alabama and Georgia, I don’t foresee Ole Miss being a problem for the Florida D.
Ole Miss Quarterback John Rhys Plumlee is a fun player to watch – he’s good for a few exciting runs per game – but he is still green as a passer, and I don’t think he’ll be able to keep pace with the Florida offense.
This is a classic case of two programs being in opposite directions. The Gators have the best QB in the SEC and are looking to make the leap into the College Football Playoff, while the Ole Miss Rebels are in a complete rebuild, with Lane Kiffin not having a normal off-season to implement his offense due to Covid-19
Don’t make this harder than it needs to be. Take the Gators.
My pick: Florida Gators (-12.5)