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Las Vegas Bowl prediction: Betting on the over is the best Florida vs. Oregon State pick

Expect depleted Gators and potent Beavers to light up scoreboard in Sin City

Running back Deshaun Fenwick and quarterback Ben Gulbranson lead an Oregon State offense that enters Saturday’s Las Vegas Bowl averaging 31.7 points in its last seven games. (Photo by Ali Gradischer/Getty Images)
Running back Deshaun Fenwick and quarterback Ben Gulbranson lead an Oregon State offense that enters Saturday’s Las Vegas Bowl averaging 31.7 points in its last seven games. (Photo by Ali Gradischer/Getty Images)Read moreAli Gradischer / Getty Images

If our Las Vegas Bowl prediction was based solely on history, there’s little question which program we’d be backing in Saturday’s Pac-12 vs. SEC clash at Allegiant Stadium.

Put it this way: Florida has won as many national championships on the gridiron this century (two) as Oregon State has 10-win seasons in its entire history.

However, our Florida vs. Oregon State pick has nothing to do with past history and everything to do with recent — very recent — history.

From opt-outs to transfer portal defections to outright dismissals, the Gators have nearly as many key players not participating in the Las Vegas Bowl as in uniform. So we’re siding with the more stable (and heavily favored) Beavers, right? Nope. Instead, we’re banking on a high-flying shootout in Sin City.

Here’s our Las Vegas Bowl prediction for the marquee matchup among Saturday’s seven-game bowl slate.

Note: Odds updated as of 11:30 a.m. ET on Dec. 16.

Florida vs. Oregon State Prediction

  1. Over 52.5 points (at BetMGM)

Florida vs. Oregon State Prediction: Analysis

We can’t help but start with a partial rundown of the players Florida won’t have access to in this game (partial because it probably would take till Sunday to name them all).

First-string quarterback Anthony Richardson opted-out to prepare for the NFL Draft. Soon after, second-string quarterback Jalen Kitna was kicked off the team following a disturbing arrest on child pornography charges.

No. 2 receiver Justin Shorter and all-SEC guard O’Cyrus Torrence also opted out, as did the team’s best linebacker, Ventrell Miller.

Throw in about 10 players (mostly reserves) who entered the transfer portal, and Florida coach Billy Napier might have to recruit a couple of Elvis impersonators off the Las Vegas Strip to fill his roster.

» READ MORE: Full sports betting coverage from The Philadelphia Inquirer

Jokes aside, the Gators’ offense just might be OK in the hands of third-string quarterback Jack Miller. A former four-star recruit, Miller last year served as the backup to Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, a Heisman Trophy finalist this season.

Miller transferred to Florida in the offseason but has been sidelined all season after having thumb surgery in August. However, with Richardson announcing early on that he wouldn’t play in the Las Vegas Bowl and Kitna booted from the team at the beginning of the month, Miller has been taking the majority of the practice snaps.

Miller won’t be throwing to Shorter, who ranked second on the team with 29 catches and 577 yards. However, the Gators will have their top two running backs, Montrell Johnson and Trevor Etienne, who combined for 1,532 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns.

Same goes for the team’s three best wide receivers not named Shorter: Rickey Pearsall, Xzavier Henderson and Daejon Reynolds amassed a total of 78 catches, 1,250 yards and nine TDs.

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So if Miller can slightly rise above the competent line, he’s got enough weapons who can do damage against an Oregon State defense that was inconsistent this season.

The Beavers held six opponents to 17 points or fewer (including, somehow, explosive USC back in late September). But they gave up an average of 31.2 points in their other six games (including 24 or more in each).

Frankly, though, Florida shouldn’t have to do a whole lot to get this game Over the total. Because Oregon State’s offense should pick apart a putrid Gators defense that ranks 89th or worse in points (28.8), total yards (417), passing yards (239.7) and rushing yards (177.3) allowed.

And that was with Ventrell Miller on the field.

During their 6-1 finish to the regular season, the Beavers averaged 31.7 points. And that was accomplished with backup quarterback Ben Gulbranson on the field.

Gulbranson, who took over after starter Chance Nolan suffered a neck injury against Utah on Oct. 1, is completing 62.3 percent of his throws for 1,290 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions. And although he’s not much of a runner, he also has four rushing TDs.

Given all of Florida’s upheaval, it’s difficult to see Oregon State — which is gunning for its second 10-win season in school history — losing this game. If you believe that, then you’d be interested to know that the Beavers averaged exactly 30 points in their eight victories against FBS opponents.

Throw in the fact that Florida’s depth issues likely will be evident on special teams, and we should see plenty of big plays on the fast, fake surface in climate-controlled Allegiant Stadium.

Play this one Over the total at BetMGM and look for an Oregon State victory somewhere in the neighborhood of 35-24.

Florida vs. Oregon State odds (via BetMGM)

  1. Point spread: Florida (+10) @ Oregon State (-10)

  2. Moneyline: Florida (+290) @ Oregon State (-375)

  3. Total: 52.5 points

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