Florida football vs. Charleston Southern: Prediction, pick, line, odds, watch live stream online

By Adam Silverstein
August 31, 2018
Florida football vs. Charleston Southern: Prediction, pick, line, odds, watch live stream online

Image Credit: Graphic by Michael Nash

Florida Gators football is back in 2018 looking to rebound from a disastrous campaign that saw the program fire its second coach in four seasons. Dan Mullen returns to Gainesville, Florida, as the new head football coach looking to bring the program back to the elite level at which it performed the last time he was in town.

Unlike last season where Florida opened against a tough Power Five opponent, UF will take the field Saturday against a Charleston Southern program that resides in the FCS is winless against FBS opponents.

Here’s what you need to know and how you can watch Gators-Buccaneers.

Viewing information

Date: Saturday, Sept. 1 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium — Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 88,548]

TV: SEC Network (Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers, Cole Cubelic)
Live stream: WatchESPN | SiriusXM: 99/190 | Radio: WRUF, TuneIn

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

Tale of the tape

Florida Gators CSU Buccaneers
Head coach Dan Mullen Mark Tucker
Record 21-12 25-9
Subdivision FBS FCS

Prediction and analysis

Spread: Florida -42| O/U: OFF

With nothing really to pick against-the-spread and no side to choose for the total, let’s instead take a look at what this game means for Florida, which will see a new head coach roam the sidelines for the fourth time in the last nine season openers and start the same quarterback in consecutive Week 1 games for the first time since 2013-14.

The focus is always on the offense, but in this game, the Gators’ defense should actually be the unit under a microscope. Even the best defenses can be taken off-kilter by a triple-option offense, and that is exactly what the Bucs bring to the table. In fact, the green grass in The Swamp will see a lot of work on Saturday considering Charleston Southern ran the ball on 72 percent of its plays a season ago, and Florida will surely want to keep its passing game under wraps as much as it can with its SEC opener just seven days away. So the question is whether defensive coordinator Todd Grantham‘s unit will swallow up or simply limit CSU on Saturday. It may not be an indication of how the defense will play all season, but it will be an interesting glimpse.

OK, let’s talk offense. Redshirt sophomore Feleipe Franks earned the starting nod at quarterback from Mullen primarily due to his ability to extend plays with his athleticism. Mullen said experience did not play into his decision, but let’s be honest, if all was equal between Franks and classmate Kyle Trask, the fact that Franks just went through the ringer a year ago had to play some factor. While Mullen has bee cagey about his plans, it would be a surprise not to see Trask get some action on Saturday. And though new NCAA redshirt rules allow a player to still earn that designation if he plays four games, freshman Emory Jones may not see the field at all if Mullen thinks he might need to utilize him late in the season.

Something that has not been mentioned much this offseason is special teams, which is a surprise considering how poor Florida played in coverage, on returns and in block situations under the last regime. Mullen had the Gators spend a ton of time in all three phases of special teams throughout the offseason, and fans should expect to see a more aggressive, attacking style akin to what they were used to back when Urban Meyer was running the show. UF is also replacing both of its specialists, so it will be interesting to see how each plays in his first college game.

In the end, the Gators should be able to move the ball with ease and stifle the Bucs. Anything less than a four-touchdown win would be a surprise considering the disparity in size and talent as well as the motivations this team has to forget about the failures of a season ago.

Since there is now a line, let’s go ahead and take Charleston Southern with the six touchdowns.

2018 records: ATS picks 0-0 | O/U picks 0-0

Injuries and absences

Probable (1): OL Brett Heggie (turf toe)
Questionable (3): DB Shawn Davis, DB C.J. McWilliams, LB David Reese (undisclosed)
Doubtful (1): WR Jacob Copeland (knee)

Out / Suspended: DE Cece Jefferson, WR Kadarius Toney, DL Kyree Campbell, RB Adarius Lemons, DL Luke Ancrum, DB Brian Edwards, James Washington

Game notes

» Florida is 19-7 in season openers under new coaches. Mullen is 7-2 in season openers as a head coach (at Mississippi State).
» The Gators have won 28 consecutive home openers dating back to 1989, the longest active streak in the nation by six games, but saw their 27-year winning streak in season openers snapped last year in a loss to Michigan.
» Florida is listing 19 returning starters from 2017, tying it with Michigan State for most among FBS programs nationally entering the season.
» The Gators have scored in 372 consecutive games, an NCAA record.
» Florida is one of two FBS teams nationally since 2008 (Alabama) to have not lost a single game to a team that ended a season with a losing record.
» UF opens the season unranked in either major top 25 poll.
» Charleston Southern is 0-20 all-time against FBS opponents.
» The Gators are 1-0 all-time against the Buccaneers, defeating Saturday’s visitors 62-3 in the 2009 season opener.

» Florida is 148-28 in The Swamp since 1990, boasting the best home winning percentage (.841) in the nation. The Gators are 70-9 against nonconference opponents, 121-13 against unranked teams and 47-13 in night games. In that span, the Gators average a winning margin of 22.2 points.

Odds and ends

» Florida will wear traditional blue jerseys, white pants and orange helmets.

» Former Gators wide receiver Cris Collinsworth will serve as the honorary Mr. Two-Bits ahead of the game.

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