Florida football: How to bet Week 5 vs Towson Tigers

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY - SEPTEMBER 14: Kyle Trask #11 of the Florida Gators throws a pass during the 29- 21 win against the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium on September 14, 2019 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY - SEPTEMBER 14: Kyle Trask #11 of the Florida Gators throws a pass during the 29- 21 win against the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium on September 14, 2019 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Oddsmakers currently have Florida football favored by 35.5 points. I recommend betting on Florida -35.5.

“Spot play.” “Looking ahead to Auburn.” “Overlooking Towson.” If you’ve encountered other people advocating a play on Towson or if you’ve thought of betting on Towson yourself against Florida football, then these three phrases are probably familiar to you.

The problem with these three phrases is that they only have a basis in random people’s purely inductive reasoning. Yes, generally speaking, it would make sense for the mighty Gators to overlook an FCS school while anticipating their upcoming slugfest with top-10 SEC rival Auburn.

But these three phrases have no basis in Dan Mullen’s reality.  Under Coach Mullen, the Gators are 3-0-1 ATS when favored by at least three touchdowns.

Last year, one could have expected them to look past their first opponent to their SEC opener. But they covered the 43-point spread against Charleston Southern. Moving on, they covered against Colorado State with their first SEC road game on deck in Tennessee.

All SEC Football
All SEC Football /

All SEC Football

They covered a 9.5-point spread against Vanderbilt after they had beaten LSU the week prior and with Georgia being their next opponent. Idaho was also an easy cover for Florida, although rival Florida State was its next opponent. This year, the Gators pushed against UT-Martin with a revenge game against Kentucky coming up.

After dismissing our expectation for Coach Mullen to look past Towson, let’s also set aside talk about the talent differential. I don’t want to consider this obvious differential between a higher-caliber SEC team and an FCS team because that’s already accounted for in the spread.

Let’s consider the match-up details because these will tell us whether Florida will easily exploit this talent differential and win by a larger margin than the spread suggests.

Out of 124 FCS programs, Towson ranks tied for 50th — so just above average — in sacks allowed. One must figure that Towson’s ranking would be even worse if it did not possess a mobile quarterback in Tom Flacco.

On the other side, the Gators rank third in the FBS in sack rate. As one of the highest-tiered pass-rushing units, they possess sundry weapons who can dominate Towson’s lower-quality offensive line.

One positive addition has been Jonathan Greenard, who leads the team with 3.5 sacks. 11 different Gators have recorded at least one sack and six have accumulated more than one. One of those six is Jabari Zuniga, who stands to be a game-time decision and could only further boost Florida’s pass rush.

One common way for an offense to alleviate opposing pressure is to strike a play-calling balance and establish its running game on early downs in order to create third-and-short situations where the defense can’t really predict whether the offense will run or pass for the first down.

Besides Towson’s deficient offensive line, the Tigers already miss their original starting running back for the season. At least by FCS standards, Shane Simpson was a prolific athlete who, last year, finished second in the FCS in all-purpose yards. While Simpson’s injury was significant enough, Towson’s back-up running back dealt with injuries that manifestly limited him in the Tigers’ overtime loss last week against Villanova. More about his status is unknown.

Even when Flacco does get time to throw, he’s been strongly reliant on one receiver, Shane Leatherbury, who nearly has as many receiving yards as Towson’s second- and third-leading receivers combined. He’ll either have to contend with one of the top corners in the nation in C.J. Henderson or Marco Wilson, a former four-star prospect who also bests Leatherbury in raw speed (based on 40-yard dash times) and size.

On the other side of the ball, Towson’s pass defense is inefficient and often gets gashed. It ranks 55th in the FCS in passing yards allowed and 62nd in yards allowed per pass attempt. This vulnerability suits Florida perfectly as Kyle Trask proves to be an abler drop-back passer than Feleipe Franks and makes full use of Florida’s pass-catching depth and talent.

I give the wide receivers more credit because the following trend extends beyond Trask’s time as Florida’s starter: after last week’s win against Tennessee, this group of Gators became the first one in 16 years to throw for over 300 yards in three consecutive games. By its standards, this Gator receiving crew is historically good and knowledge that Florida has a way to reliably score a ton of points is crucial to betting on it as a multi-touchdown favorite.

So, Florida’s defensive line and secondary will be pivotal to limiting Towson’s one-dimensional offense. Also, Florida’s pass attack will cruise to a high scoring total against a weaker FCS-level defense.

Next. 5 Towson Tigers to watch vs. Florida Saturday. dark

Betting Record: 2-2