Florida vs. McNeese prediction, pick, odds, spread, football game time, watch live stream, TV channel

By OnlyGators.com Staff
September 9, 2023
Florida vs. McNeese prediction, pick, odds, spread, football game time, watch live stream, TV channel

Image Credit: Michael Nash

Unable to kick off a season with a signature win for the second straight year, the Florida Gators get a bit of a reprieve — at least that’s the plan — with the McNeese Cowboys visiting Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday for the Gators’ home opener. Florida has a number of plans for this game as it asked fans to wear white and is scheduled to unveil new lights throughout The Swamp.

The second of four straight night games the Gators will play to begin the campaign, Saturday’s contest is unique in that Florida had two additional days to prepare. While an opponent like McNeese should not require that extra preparation, given the way UF played in an 11-point defeat at Utah, the program could certainly use it.

The Gators enter as a substantial 45-point favorite. This for a team that only topped that total once last season (vs. Eastern Washington, 52-17). Still, Florida should — if all goes according to plan — have the opportunity to not only get right against McNeese but also play a number of true freshmen to help get them some in-game experience before the season continues.

What will go down Saturday night as the Gators visit the Utes? Let’s find out. (Don’t miss our Florida football notebook covering Napier’s thoughts entering Week 2 as well as the updated Gators depth chart.)

Tale of the tape

Florida GatorsMcNeese Cowboys
Head coachBilly NapierGary Goff
ConferenceSECSouthland (FCS)

Injuries and absences

Questionable (6): C Kingsley Eguakun (knee), WR Marcus Burke (lower body), QB Jack Miller III (shoulder), WR Kahleil Jackson (lower body), TE Tony Livingston (upper body), WR Thai Chiaokhiao-Bowman (lower body), CB Devin Moore (illness)
Out (3): Ja’Markis Weston (upper body), TE Keon Zipperer (lower body), OL Caden Jones (foot)
Out for season (2): DL Justus Boone (knee), RB Cam Carroll (knee)

News & notes

» Defensive back Jadarrius Perkins, who was listed second on the depth chart at STAR, announced Thursday he is entering the transfer portal. Perkins, a JUCO transfer under Dan Mullen, departed for reasons unrelated to football that the staff understood.
» Napier believes the fundamentals of the defenders have improved as they begin Year 2 in the system. He thought the unit played clean football after the opening play against Utah.
» Freshman wide receiver Eugene Wilson III will make his first career start.
» Twenty-two players who had never taken a snap for the Gators played in Week 1.

Viewing information

Date: Saturday, Sept. 9 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium — Gainesville, Florida [88,548]

TV: ESPNU (Beth Mowins, Kirk Morrison, Stormy Buonantony)
Live stream: ESPN+ | SiriusXM: 136/201 | Radio: WRUF, TuneIn
Live updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

Game notes

» Florida has won 33 straight home openers since 1989 and holds the NCAA’s active record.
» The Gators are 22-1 against FCS opponents since 1981, winning by an average of 51.3 points per game since 2019.
» Florida has never played McNeese on the gridiron. The Cowboys are 14-32-2 all-time against FBS opponents, 0-4 against SEC teams.
» The Gators have won 75.2% of their games in The Swamp all-time, and they holds the second-best home winning percentage in the nation since 1990 at 174-34 (.837).
» Florida opened the season unranked in either of the main top 25 polls for the second straight year and third time in seven seasons.
» UF entered the season with 35 new scholarship players on the roster, tied for 12th most in the FBS. It also had just 115 combined starts returning, second-fewest in the nation, and only 69 returning players, ninth-fewest in the nation.
» The Gators under Napier are 2-5 when opponents score first, 0-4 when scoring less than 21 points, 3-7 when allowing 21+ points, 1-8 when tied or trailing after the third quarter and 1-5 when being outrushed. Florida is 5-0 when leading after the third quarter and 6-2 when rushing for at least 150 yards.
» The Gators are 17-5 against nonconference opponents since 2018 with three straight losses.
» Florida is 7-16 against ranked opponents (2-5 vs. top five teams, 5-7 vs. top 10 teams) and 32-10 against unranked opponents since 2018. UF went 1-5 against AP Top 25 teams last season.
» The Gators have scored in 437 consecutive games, an NCAA record.

Prediction and analysis

Spread: Florida -45 | O/U: 55.5

As has been mentioned in this space previously, we offer picks on both the spread and the total because that is what’s promised here; we do not always recommend actually taking either or both picks. In this case, there would be no scenario in which a play on the spread would make sense — and even a move on the total is ill-advised.

The Gators have only scored 45+ points against one opponent under Napier, and they only posted 11 points last week. Not only that, UF only combined for 17 points in the spring game and totaled just 14 points in its last two real games.

So, even if Florida dominates a McNeese team that gave up 52 points to FCS Tarleton State (!) last week, an offensive breakout to that degree is hardly a sure thing. Particularly given the Gators could pull key starters by halftime in order to get backups and youngsters — like redshirt freshman quarterback Max Brown — work. Florida’s backup defense also gave up 14 points in the fourth quarter last season to Eastern Washington, so a backdoor cover could be in play even if UF goes up massively.

Similarly, the total should be almost entirely dictated by how many points the Gators score. A final of 45-6 sounds right, but even that — while dominant — would fall under.

2023 records: ATS picks 0-1 | O/U picks 1-0

Odds and ends

» Uniforms: Florida will wear blue jerseys, white pants and orange helmets. (Fun fact: UF will not wear orange jerseys or pants at all this season.)
» Light it up: The Gators will debut new LED lights in The Swamp.
» Mr. 2-Bits: Fred Biondi, who won the 2022 NCAA Championship in men’s golf for Florida, will serve in the honorary role.

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