(10) Florida Gators (-4, 47 O/U) at Arkansas Razorbacks
Two weeks ago, the Arkansas Razorbacks (5-3 SU, 3-5 ATS) were embarrassed at Auburn. The Hogs’ defense had no answer for the Tigers’ rushing attack and left town with a humbling 56-3 loss. Arkansas had a bye week to lick its wounds and regroup the final four regular season games, the first of which comes this Saturday against the No. 10 Florida Gators (6-1 SU, 3-4 ATS) in Fayetteville (Nov. 4 at 3:30 Eastern).
Bret Bielema is in his fourth season as the Arkansas head coach. His teams have improved each year and they’ve earned a reputation of playing their best football in the final weeks. This matchup will go a long way in determining if that trend continues. A victory over the Gators would be a statement to the entire conference; it would signal that the Razorbacks are ready to establish themselves in the top half of the SEC West. This has become the biggest game on their schedule; unquestionably the Hogs will be focused on putting forth their best effort of the year.
Matching up against the Florida defense requires more than preparation, alone. With the exception of a second-half breakdown at Tennessee, the Gators have shut down every opponent. Only the Volunteers have scored more than 14-points against the stingy defense. The Gators have the inside track to win the SEC East and have quietly earned the number 10 ranking nationally.
Florida has dominated the series by beating Arkansas in the last nine meetings. This year, their stalwart defense is paired with a steady if not flashy offense, led by junior quarterback Luke Del Rio. While the Gator attack has plenty of athleticism, coach Jim McElwain opts to run a more deliberate offense which is built to control the ball and get first downs. This should play into the hands of an Arkansas defense which has been exposed by quick-pace offenses.
The Gators have not defeated a team in the current top-25 and have not proven themselves on the road; Florida lost at Tennessee and squeaked by Vanderbilt in its only true road games. If the Razorbacks are able to protect quarterback Austin Allen, they should be able to muster enough offense to make this one competitive throughout. They’ve allowed 21 sacks on the season and will prioritize pass protection this week.
All three Arkansas losses have been against excellent competition (No. 1 Alabama, No. 7 Texas A’M, and No. 11 Auburn). The Hogs are battle tested and their physical nature will equal that of the aggressive Gators. Both teams will look to control the ball in what should be a classic, smashmouth SEC showdown. The line opened at Florida -4 and hasn’t moved. The total is one of the week’s lowest at 47. This is likely to be a tight one and taking the points is advised.
Pick: Arkansas (+4)
Photo credit: Bobak [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons.