College football betting, odds: Can Utah hang with the Gators in The Swamp?

·Betting analyst
·2 min read

We have a full slate of college football this weekend — about 50 games of glory. We had a solid Thursday night opener with some pretty good matchups, including the Backyard Brawl with Pittsburgh topping West Virginia. But let's move on. Here’s what I like for Saturday.

Army (+2.5 & +110) at Coastal Carolina

Check out my complete break down here:

Utah (-2.5) at Florida

I’m looking for the Utes to continue their 2021 success. Quarterback Cameron Rising is a ... rising star after passing for 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions last season and completing 64 percent of his passes. The strength of this team lies in the defense, which was top 25 last season, and it returns a lot of starters who helped hold opponents to an average of 25 points per game. This team should be just as good if not better than its 2021 self — both on offense and defense.

The Gators, on the other hand, are perhaps getting a bit too much respect because of new head coach Billy Napier, who came from Louisiana. QB Anthony Richardson played backup last year but looks to be a capable quarterback who has showcased flashes of brilliance. After just two games last year I saw enough to want to grab a Heisman long-shot ticket, but the problem is durability. Richardson was in and out with injuries all season long. The Florida offense loses its top two running backs in Dameon Pierce and Malik Davis, who accounted for 18 of the team's 26 total rushing scores. It also lost three of its top five wide receivers, including WR1 Jacob Copeland, who accounted for 11 of the team's 27 total receiving touchdowns.

Florida head coach Billy Napier speaks during an NCAA college football news conference at the Southeastern Conference Media Days, Wednesday, July 20, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Florida head coach Billy Napier speaks during SEC Media Days on July 20, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Gone on defense for Florida is leading tackler and second-best pass rusher Zachary Carter (who ranked top 30 in sacks last year), but the Gators still have Brenton Cox Jr., who had 8.5 sacks in 2021.

This could be a competitive matchup at first, but ultimately I expect Utah, a team returning its key parts on both sides of the ball, to come out with a comfortable win.

There are a few other matchups I was considering, like the under 58.5 on TCU at Colorado on Friday night, UTEP (+31.5) at Oklahoma, and Southern Miss (+3.5) at home against Liberty, but it’s Week 1. I like to keep things light and get a gauge for things early on before really attacking the betting board as the season progresses.

Good luck with your bets and cheers to football being back.