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NCAAF Preview: Utah Utes vs. Florida Gators odds, prediction and picks

The Action Network’s Michael Arinze shares why the Gators could struggle in their home opener against Utah Saturday night

No. 7 Utah, behind head coach Kyle Whittingham, travels to Florida as a small favorite vs. the Gators. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
No. 7 Utah, behind head coach Kyle Whittingham, travels to Florida as a small favorite vs. the Gators. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)Read moreThearon W. Henderson / Getty Images

If the Utah Utes have aspirations about being in the College Football Playoff, they can ill afford a slip-up in The Swamp when they take on the Florida Gators.

You’ll have to go back to 2009, when Utah faced Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, to find the last time the Utes played an SEC school. And if we’re talking about a regular season game, you’ll have to go back to 1984, when Utah lost in Knoxville, 27-21, to Tennessee.

No. 7 Utah will get a check for $500,000 to travel to Gainesville for this game. We often see this when Power Five schools schedule lesser teams for a tune-up game. But with the Utes now as high as a three-point favorite after opening as a one-point underdog, it could be a costly decision for the Florida athletic department.

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Utah Utes vs. Florida Gators

Moneyline: UTAH (-146) vs. FLA (+122)

Spread: UTAH -2.5 (-120) vs. FLA +2.5 (-102)

Total: Over 51.5 (-108) | Under 51.5 (-112)


After a 2-0 start last season, the Florida Gators came oh-so-close to pulling off the upset in a 31-29 loss to Alabama at home. The Gators won the time of possession (31:55) battle, despite never leading in the game, as it pounded the Crimson Tide for 245 yards on the ground.

Florida even outgained Alabama by 109 yards in the loss. The difference in the game was an Emory Jones interception that resulted in a touchdown for Alabama six plays later.

One can only wonder how Florida’s season would’ve played out had it pulled out the victory. The Gators looked inconsistent the rest of the way, losing four of their next six games. In March, after just two days of spring practice, Jones announced he would enter the transfer portal and has moved on to Arizona State. Florida will also have to replace running backs Dameon Pierce and Malik Davis, who are now in the NFL.

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Two of their top three leaders (WR Jacob Copeland and TE Kenmore Gamble) in receptions and yards are also no longer on the team after entering the transfer portal.

When you sum it all up, that’s a lot to overcome, especially when you add in a new head coach in Billy Napier and a quarterback in Anthony Richardson, who has only two starts under his belt.

ESPN’s Bill Connelly has Florida tied for 84th (59%) in his Returning Production Rankings. Utah has a bit more stability as it ranks 51st on his list.

» READ MORE: This Week 1 system play is on a 10-1 ATS run in college football

The last time we saw the Utes in action, they hung 45 points on the Ohio State Buckeyes at the Rose Bowl in a 48-45 loss. It’s worth noting that Utah held two 14-point leads in the game at 28-14 and 35-21 in the second quarter.

However, they couldn’t slow down a Buckeyes offense that racked up 683 yards in the game. I suspect we won’t see the Gators’ offense put up anywhere near those numbers, as it should take some time to get the offense going.

If you’re looking for something fun to do throughout the season, I recommend tracking the ATS numbers for the new college head coaches. According to our Action Labs database, these coaches are 1-4 against the spread through five games thus far.

I think that’s something to keep an eye on, especially in the season’s early stages. Lay the points with the short favorites on the road.


Utah -2.5

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