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SEC Football Saturday: Florida Wins Tune Up Game for Miami

floridatoledo-wrIt is Labor Day Weekend and that can mean only one thing. College football is underway. Like many people all across the country, I decided to take in a game at my favorite team’s opener. The Toledo Rockets came in to play the Florida Gators at “The Swamp” in Gainesville. The Rockets came in a 24 point underdog, however nobody on TV or on radio that I heard leading up to the game predicted Florida would cover the spread.

The game went just about the way most of the pundits thought it would. Florida won the game by 18 points, 24-6. For those of you thinking this means Florida is not as good as advertised and you are thinking about taking the Miami Hurricanes and the points next week, let me caution you before you do that. Here are some things you may want to consider:

1. Florida looked underwhelming in the games where they played “inferior talent” a year ago. In the opener against another MAC school, Miami of Ohio, they looked downright sluggish. Yet they went to Texas A&M the following week and won.

2. Florida is a different team under Coach Will Muschamp. The days of Spurrier and Meyer running up huge scores on people are over. Muschamp is about controlling the line of scrimmage, eating clock, and wearing down an opponent. The only way Florida is going to open up a can on somebody is by getting some defensive and special teams scores. The offense just doesn’t make yardage in big chunks.

3. Florida Field was ridiculously hot and humid. Noon starts in late August and early September in Florida should be outlawed. The players had to be feeling it, especially in the second half. To practice in the heat has to be rough, but to play a game in it has got to be brutal.

4. Florida had a lot of players out due to injuries and suspensions. Many of those players will be back next week including starting tailback Matt Jones and starting corner Loucheiz Purifoy. Purifoy is such a weapon, rumor has it he will get some action at wide receiver this year.

5. Florida took no shots down the field. Muschamp must be waiting for just the right moment to throw the ball deep. If he doesn’t need the points, he won’t do it. But he has got a quarterback with a big arm, so at some point, look for the Gators to burn somebody deep.

6. Toledo has a pretty good team. Florida’s defense shut them down. The Rockets are normally a high scoring bunch. In2012. they beat #18 Cincinnati 29-23, lost in overtime to Arizona 24-17 in overtime, in 2011 they lost to Ohio State 27-22 and Syracuse 33-30 in overtime. They had zero shot of getting into the end zone on the Gator defense today.

So, does mean the Gators will cover the spread next week against Miami? Obviously that will depend on what the spread is. My gut feeling is the spread will be somewhere under six points and the Gators should cover that. Florida gets fired up to play Miami and vice versa. Nobody is going to hold back next week.

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