By Charles Jay
The Florida Gators, in the opinion of many, really limped toward the finish line this season, although they got into the SEC championship game. But they were kind of embarrassed against the Alabama Crimson Tide in that one, and may be looking for some redemption as they line up not too far from home against the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Outback Bowl, which takes place on Monday at 1 PM ET at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. ABC will televise the game, and while BetAnySports customers are watching it, they can engage in real-time wagering using the state-of-the-art software from Live Betting Ultra.
Iowa finished with a record of 8-4 straight-up and the Hawkeyes were 6-6 against the football pointspread. Florida also had a 8-4 record, but they were not profitable against the points, going just 5-7 ATS. And they were not a strong offensive team coming down the stretch, failing to top 20 points in any of their last five games. The Gators finished 116th the nation in total offense, and of course they had to go through a quarterback change, as Luke Del Rio got hurt and Austin Appleby, a transfer from Purdue, had to take over. Appleby was serviceable, completing 61% of his passes, but he really didn’t make a lot of plays happen. Yes, there was a long TD pass against LSU which helped the Gators to a victory, but the Florida defense had to put on a few red zone stands in order to make that happen.
Iowa did a tremendous job in their 14-13 win over Michigan, dealing the Wolverines their first loss of the year. They held Michigan to 201 yards, 14 first downs and solidified their reputation as one of the Big Ten’s top defenses. Statistically, they were 10th best in the nation, allowing opponents to score just 17.9 points per game against them. But there were some downers as well; for instance, they lost in North Dakota State, an FCS school, accumulating just 231 yards on offense.
In the Outback Bowl odds that a been posted on this game by the people at BetAnySports, Florida is the favorite:
Florida Gators -3 (-105)
Iowa Hawkeyes +3 (-115)
Over 40.5 points -110
Under 40.5 points -110
Iowa brought five starters back to the offense this season, and one of them was CJ Beathard, touted as a very talented quarterback, but not all that prolific, completing less than 59% of his passes with 17 touchdowns. This team clearly depends on putting something together on the ground, and they have a combination of running backs who can make that happen. LaShun Daniels and Akrum Wadley combined for almost 2000 yards this season, so that is Florida’s first assignment – stack up and stop the run and make Beathard beat them through the air.
That may be the same way Iowa’s defense is going to approach Florida’s offensive unit. The Gators really don’t do a whole lot very well when they have the ball, although you could say that Jordan Scarlet (795 yards, 4.8 yards per carry) would be there top weapon. That’s not saying a whole lot 14 that was 113th in rushing offense this season. But you would like for Appleby, the former Big Ten quarterback, to have to beat you if you are a BetAnySports patron who is also an Iowa supporter.
Injuries really hampered the Florida defense this season, and that will be much the case coming into this game. However, it must be noted that when they went to Baton Rouge for that game that was rescheduled because of Hurricane Matthew, Florida was severely short-handed on the stop unit, but nonetheless scored a road victory over the same LSU squad that recently carved up Louisville. The light at the end of the tunnel for Iowa might be that in the last three games of the season, Florida allowed a total of 702 rushing yards.
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