Florida Atlantic Owls (0-0) vs. Florida Gators (0-0)
September 4, 2021 7:30 pm EDT
The Line: Florida Gators -24.5 / Florida Atlantic Owls +24.5; Over/Under: -53.5
(Click here for latest betting odds)
The Florida Gators meet the FAU Owls and the in week 1 college football action from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday.
The FAU Owls will look to take another step forward under Willie Taggart after going 5-4 in 202 with a 4-2 record in C-USA conference play. The season culminated with a 25-10 loss to Memphis in the Montgomery Bowl. The offense wasn’t great with Nick Tronti leading the charge and Javion Posey finished second on the Owls in rushing but both will feel the pressure that comes with N’Kosi Perry transferring in from Miami after being a big part of the Hurricanes’ offense over the last three years, but it comes at a cost as Perry wasn’t overly accurate and FAU’s quarterbacks only his 53% of their passes last season, so the last thing the team needs is another inconsistent passing threat. Johnny Ford transfers in from USF after rushing for almost 1,200 yards with 13 touchdowns last season while James Charles is in as well after leading the Owls with 429 rushing yards and Malcolm Davidson who led the Owls in 2019 with over seven yards per carry to give the Owls a nice corps of running backs to handle the football. The receiving group is in good shape as well as John Dunmore comes in from Penn State and will help an FAU offense in need of a playmaker that is able to stretch the field with leading receiver TJ Chase gone. The good news for FAU from a defensive standpoint is that 13 of their top 14 tacklers are back from an offense that allowed 17 points per game last season including leading sack man Jaylen Joyner as well as nose anchor Evan Anderson. Chase Lasater is back after leading FAU with 72 tackles while Ahman Ross had 58 tackles and 5.5 tackles for a loss. Teja Young and Zyon Gilbert headline the FAU secondary which is also in good standing as the Owls are bringing back a ton of returning experience. As a team, FAU averaged 18.9 PPG and allowed 17.4 PPG last season.
The Florida Gators will look to usher in a new era in 2021 after finishing 8-4 in 2020 with an 8-3 mark in SEC conference play which culminated in a 55-20 blowout loss to Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. We say new era because the faces of the Florida offense from last year are gone, with Kyle Trask, Kyle Pitts, Kadarius Toney and Trevon Grimes all gone. Emory Jones is the next man to head man the Gators offense, and it will be interesting to see how Florida implements him in the offense as a true dual-threat QB. Dameon Pierce is back after recording 503 rushing yards with 4 TDs while Malik Davis had 310 yards with 32 receptions as well out of the Gator backfield while Demarkcus Bowman transfers in from Clemson to add to the running back mix. Jacob Copeland is Florida’s leading returning receiver, and Xzavier Henderson gives the Gators another big target with experience while Justin Shorter is lining up to be a key part ofFlorida’s offense in time. Defensively, linebacking should be Florida’s strength with three of the top four tacklers from last year’s team back with Ventrell Miller, Mohamoud Diabate and Amari Burney all combining for 206 tackles last season. Zachary Carter and Brenton Cox make up a formidable pair of returners on the line while Daquan Newkirk and Antonio Shelton transfer into the program. Tre’Vez Johnson is back at safety and Rashad Torrence and Trey Dean will be there to back him up while Kalir Elam and Jaydon Hill will be tasked with leading the group of Florida corners this season. As a team, Florida averaged 39.8 PPG and allowed 30.8 PPG last season.
FAU is 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games overall and 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games in September while the over is 8-3 in their last 11 road games. Florida is 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall and 6-2-1 ATS in their last 9 Saturday games while the under is 6-0 in their last 6 games against C-USA.
I like this FAU team and their grit defensively under Willie Fritz, but it’s hard to win football games if you don’t put points on the board, I don’t care how good your defense is. Like the Gators or not, Dan Mullen just seems to be the Quarterback Whisperer and can bring the best out of any pivot in his system and I think Emory Jones will be next in line for that honor. I think the Gators deliver a message at FAU’s expense in the opener so I’ll lay it and play it with Florida here.