Each week Torres Online college football wrter Jake Faigus will preview a big games that we don't get to in Aaron Torres' weekly picks.
Today, that game is the fascinating SEC East matchup between Florida and Tennessee. The Gators are 2-1 but have not looked the same since Week 1 against Utah, while the Vols offense is rolling - but what do we know about their defense? Jake answers.
Let's get to the preview, with all odds provided by Betfred Sportsbook:
No. 20 Florida at No. 11 Tennessee
Spread: Tennessee (-11.5)
Florida visits it’s hated rival, Tennessee, this weekend in what always seems to be a good game between SEC East foes. Florida is coming off an escape of a win against South Florida at home, while Tennessee is coming off a blow-out win against Akron. Florida has had the upper hand in this series, especially recently, with Tennessee’s last win coming in 2016.
Tennessee comes into this game as a 10.5-point favorite and at -400 on the money line in the BetFred Sportsbook. The spread seems high, but Tennessee is being backed because they are at home and have been more impressive than Florida so far. The over/under is 62, which makes sense because both offenses should be able to score. Tennessee has been on fire from an offensive standpoint to start the year. It’s been more of a grind for Florida to score, but they still have the ability too, especially if Anthony Richardson can get some things figured out.
My pick here is Tennessee -10.5 points. This was a pick I went back and forth on, but I’m sticking with the Volunteers here. Florida has been very disappointing since the great win against Utah to start the year. The pressure will be on Florida quarterback, Anthony Richardson, who has yet to throw a touchdown pass on the year. Richardson has all the physical tools to be a good quarterback, but something just seems off about him ever since the Utah game. Tennessee, on the other hand, has started the season very strong. They’ve scored 59 and 66 points respectively against two different MAC teams, and then went to Pitt and won in overtime too. The Volunteers are in for big things this year, and it starts with what Hendon Hooker has been able to do at quarterback and could continue to do down the road too. The biggest advantage Tennessee has is just how loud that home crowd is going to be in Neyland Stadium. Neyland Stadium is one of the bigger stadiums in the entire country, and it’s going to be sold out for this game. The raucous home crowd and the trajectory of where each team seems to be headed is why I like the Volunteers here.
The biggest key here is the matchup between Anthony Richardson and the Tennessee passing defense. I single out the passing defense because Richardson has had a rough time passing the football ever since the Utah game. Since Utah, Richardson has not reached 150 yards through the air, and even against Utah he didn’t surpass 170 passing yards. On top of the very low passing yards numbers, Richardson also has four interceptions and has yet to throw a passing touchdown still. The Tennessee defense has been decent overall. The passing defense has been good too and the most yards they’ve allowed through the air so far was over 260 yards. This will be a good test for the defense because Richardson has the talent to turn his season around, and the last thing Tennessee wants is for it to happen against them.
The Pick: Tennessee (-10.5)
Follow Jake Faigus on Twitter - @Jake_Faigus