Saturday, December 5, 2020, Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee, 3:30 p.m. ET
Gators at Volunteers Betting Preview: Gators (-17.5), Volunteers (+17.5)
Florida Gators Betting Preview
The No. 6 Gators (7-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) have won five consecutive games since losing 41-38 at Texas A&M and can clinch the SEC East with a victory against the Volunteers or a Georgia loss to winless Vanderbilt.
A division title would be the Gators’ first since 2016 and would send them to Atlanta on Dec. 19 for the SEC Championship Game, likely against undefeated and top-ranked Alabama.
The Gators last week welcomed back tight end Kyle Pitts, and he made major contributions in the 34-10 home win over Kentucky.
Kyle Trask’s go-to target during the quarterback’s 34-touchdown campaign so far, Pitts responded by hauling in three touchdown passes from Trask in a game Florida trailed 10-7 late in the first half.
Pitts caught five passes for a game-high 99 yards and increased his touchdown total to 11 on 29 receptions (513 yards, 17.7 yards per catch) after missing previous games against Vanderbilt and Arkansas.
“I was real jittery,” Pitts said. “Because, not playing for two weeks, my chest kind of got hot and my heartbeat fast so … I was a little nervous at first.”
Tennessee Volunteers Betting Preview
The Volunteers (2-5, 2-5 SEC) have lost their last five games, have dropped 14 of their last 15 contests against Florida and are mired in the division’s lower echelons below three-win Kentucky but ahead of two-win South Carolina and winless Vanderbilts.
Tennessee’s biggest hurdle continues to be at quarterback, where Jarrett Guarantano (103-for-166 passing, 1,112 yards, 6 touchdowns, 4 interceptions) has been wildly inconsistent. The team also has been outscored 108-14 in the second halves of the last five games.
Against Auburn, Guarantano led the Vols to a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter, but the senior signal-caller was largely ineffective the rest of the way in a 30-17 defeat. He made matters worse when he tossed a 100-yard pick-six to the Tigers’ Smoke Monday.
Highly regarded freshman Harrison Bailey replaced Guarantano and went 7-for-10 passing for 86 yards and led the Vols to their final touchdown.
Coach Jeremy Pruitt said this week that two players are COVID-19 positive from the Nov. 17 game in Auburn, and contact tracing has put up to 16 players in quarantine — including one quarterback who remained unnamed by the third-year coach.
That means either Guarantano, Bailey, J.T. Shrout, or Brian Maurer will likely be unavailable against the Gators.
With Tennessee’s season spinning toward its end, the time could be right for Bailey, a four-star prospect from Marietta, Georgia, to make his first career start in place of the senior Guarantano.
Starting wide receiver Josh Palmer may have provided a hint.
“He’s calm and cool and collected,” Palmer said of Bailey. “I feel like we have a really good game plan for him.”
Gators at Volunteers Betting Pick for December 5, 2020
The Gators lead the series overall 29-20 and are 13-12 over the Volunteers in Knoxville. They have won 14 of the last 15 meetings, including a 34-3 romp in Gainesville last year and a 47-21 win in 2018 in the last meeting in Knoxville. Trask passed for 293 yards and a pair of touchdowns last year while Guarantano passed for only 107 yards for the Vols.
Gators at Volunteers Betting Pick:
Gators 45, Volunteers 10
Gators at Volunteers Best Bet for December 5, 2020
The Volunteers recorded single-game season-high in total offense with 464 yards in their last outing, a 30-17 loss at Auburn on Nov. 21. That’s considerably less than the 509.2 yards the Gators are averaging a game.
Gators at Volunteers Best Bet: UNDER 61.5