The level of football being played by the Florida Gators’ defense right now is one of the more overlooked stories in college football. It’s the best defense in the Southeastern Conference, which means it’s arguably the best unit — offense or defense — in college football.
Consider this: Florida’s defense is giving up an average of 202.5 yards per game. The league’s second stingiest unit based on total defense, Mississippi State, is allowing 107.5 more yards per game than the Gators. Of all the major defensive categories in which Florida leads the SEC, the number that sticks out most prominently is 17.8. That’s the percentage of third-down conversions by opponents against the Gators.
In Florida’s only loss, a 21-16 defeat to Miami, the Gators’ defense allowed just 10 first downs. Meanwhile, UF’s offense gave the ball away five times. For the purposes of Joe vs. the Pro, the Gators’ defense makes things tricky. Despite losing its starting quarterback, UF has been favored by double digits the past two weeks. It’s a quandary that’s not going to get any easier as the season progresses. Joe missed on the Gators last week to go 5-1-2 against the spread.
Meanwhile, the Pro hit on the Gators but missed on FSU after its slow start at Boston College. Overall, Joe is 32-8 straight up and 26-12-2 against the spread. The Pro enters this week 30-10 straight up and 29-9-2 against the spread. On to the picks!
Georgia Tech at Miami, Miami by 5
Arkansas at Florida, Florida by 11
Maryland at Florida State, Florida State by 15
FIU at Southern Miss, Southern Miss by 16 1/2
Alabama-Birmingham at Florida Atlantic, UAB by 4
North Carolina at Virginia Tech, Virginia Tech by 7 1/2
Cincinnati at South Florida, Cincinnati by 11 1/2
Central Florida at Memphis, Central Florida by 10 1/2