Florida Gators football found its groove last week and now looks to close out the early portion of its home slate against the North Texas Mean Green.
Here’s what you need to know and how you can watch Florida-North Texas.
Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather: 83°F (feels like 89°F), 15 percent chance of rain, winds NE at 5 mph
Time: 7:30 p.m. EST
TV: ESPNU (Clay Matvick, Dusty Dvoracek)
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter
Tale of the tape
|No. 23 Florida Gators||North Texas Mean Green|
|Head Coach||Jim McElwain||Seth Littrell|
Three things to know
1. It’s been a long time: There’s not a long series history between Florida and North Texas. In fact, the Gators and Mean Green only squared off once before back in 1947, a game that the program then known as North Texas State won 20-12 in Gainesville. Here’s what else happened in 1947. The transistor and Polaroid instant camera were invented; gas cost $0.15; an unidentified flying object was supposedly found grounded in Roswell, New Mexico; Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to play in MLB since the 1880s; the Cold War began between the United States and Russia; and the Air Force was made an official branch of the U.S. military.
2. Down two (actually more): Six players not labeled “out for the season” will likely be missing from Saturday’s game, most notably two offensive starters in sophomores wide receiver Antonio Callaway (listed as doubtful) and right guard Tyler Jordan. Callaway is nursing a quadriceps injury and may return next week, but Jordan is dealing with an eye issue stemming from a broken orbital bone he suffered in 2015 and may miss some time.
3. Who’s carrying the rock? McElwain continues to refuse to name a lead running back or make someone a true primary ball carrier. Sophomore Jordan Scarlett (22 carries, 113 yards), freshman Lamichal Perine (18 carries, 104 yards) and junior transfer Mark Thompson (21 carries, 81 yards) have all split work with sophomore Jordan Cronkrite (eight carries, 34 yards) seeing a bit less action as he was not completely 100 percent. There’s been no consistency between Week 1 and Week 2, meaning McElwain continues to go with the hot-hand approach, even as he does not ride that hot hand that much in any one game. With some big games coming up, it will be interesting to see whether that continues.
Pick and analysis
Spread: Florida -36.5 | O/U: 52
Look, you can’t blame me for a combined 0-4 start here. There has been no figuring Florida out in the early going this season. The Gators have stalled against a team they should have blown out and eviscerated a conference opponent who was expected to put up a bigger fight. Hopefully my 11-2-1 ATS record (8-6 O/U) last year earns me some leeway with you all.
So before I give you these picks, I am telling you — like I suggested two weeks ago — not to take this game. Just watch it and try to enjoy it. OK, now with that out of the way …
Florida would basically need to play the exact same game it did against Kentucky (45-7) to cover the spread and push the total of 52. While UF may be improved offensively and could possibly put points up in bunches on Saturday, covering more than five touchdowns is not going to be likely with a top playmaker and starting offensive lineman out of the game. Sure, scores could come on defense, but you don’t project that. Plus, you have to think North Texas puts up more of a fight as it did post 41 points last week (granted, against Bethune-Cookman).
Let’s just go with North Texas and the points and the total going under.
2016 records: ATS picks 0-2 | O/U picks 0-2
Injuries and absences
Probable/questionable (3): C Cam Dillard (elbow), DB Joseph Putu (leg), RB Mark Herndon (undisclosed)
Doubtful (1): WR Antonio Callaway (quad)
Out (5): RG Tyler Jordan (eye), WR Tyrie Cleveland (hamstring), LB Jeremiah Moon (thumb), DB Quincy Lenton (foot), WR Kalif Jackson (knee)
Out for the season (3): WR Dre Massey (knee), OL Antonio Riles (knee), DB C.J. McWilliams (undisclosed)
» Florida is 0-1 all-time against North Texas with UF hosting but falling to their visitors from the Lone Star State 20-12 in 1947.
» The Mean Green have not defeated an AP Top 25 opponent since 1974.
» The Gators’ defense has been a hallmark of the program; UF is now 206-11 since 1990 when an opponent scores 21 points or fewer in a contest, including 11-0 under McElwain.
» Also under McElwain, UF is 11-0 against unranked opponents and 1-4 against ranked opponents. The Gators are 10-0 when outrushing an opponent and 9-0 when leading at the half.
» Florida owns the nation’s longest streak of returning either a kickoff or punt for a touchdown, doing so in 11 straight seasons. It has yet to accomplish that in 2016.
» UF has the second-most wins in the nation since 1990 (251).
» Florida is 1-5 against the spread both in its last six home games, 0-5 in its last five nonconference games.
Quote of the week
“From Coach [Nick] Saban? Yeah, all the time. It was awesome. Maybe he just knew I was so whacked out anyway it really didn’t matter. … I thought that was normal.” — Jim McElwain on whether he ever had his “ass chewed” by his former boss
Florida will wear blue jerseys, orange pants and orange helmets on Saturday. The team captains, which change weekly, are responsible for choosing the uniforms ahead of each game.