Free College Football Bowl Picks and Spreads: Ohio St vs Florida 2012 Gator Bowl Vegas Odds, Free Picks, and Expert Predictions on ESPN 1/2/12: There are bowl matchups that produce juicy storylines, and then there is the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl. On the field, the game features an Ohio State team and a Florida team having down years, and both sides enter the game with identical 6-6 records. Off the field, the Buckeyes are celebrating the signing of former Gators’ coach Urban Meyer. Ohio State is also dealing with NCAA sanctions for violations that took place under former coach Jim Tressell, while Florida fans are left to wonder why Meyer needed to spend more time with his family and leave the Gators but was willing to sign with the Buckeyes a year later. Needless to say, a rivalry has been created between two programs that otherwise have little history with each other. The Gators enter the matchup as two-point favorites.
Despite the intrigue surrounding the game, the action on the field could leave a lot to be desired. Both teams rank outside the top 100 in terms of offensive yards per game, and both teams average less than 26 points. Ohio State does boast the country’s 27th-best rushing attack, but for the most part, both sides have relied heavily on their defenses to compensate for their lackluster offenses.
Not surprisingly, neither side brings a lot of momentum into the bowl game. Ohio State closed the year on a three-game losing streak and saw its seven-game winning streak against rival Michigan come to an end. Meanwhile, the Gators lost six of their last eight games and didn’t beat a single ranked opponent all season. During the final eight games, Florida scored 12 points or less on five occasions.
When either side is able to score, it will likely come via the ground game. Florida running backs Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps formed a formidable duo, combining for more than 1,300 yards. Both players averaged more than five yards per carry, but in addition to struggling against the tougher SEC defense, they scored only eight touchdowns. Without a passing game to fall back on, teams were able to stack the line of scrimmage, especially in the red zone.
Meanwhile, the Buckeyes leading rusher turned out to be freshman quarterback Braxton Miller. He was thrust into the starting lineup after Terrelle Pryor left for the NFL, but he finished the year with more than 600 yards and seven touchdowns. Feature back Dan Herron missed the early part of the year due to suspension, but he looked strong upon returning and will be in the lineup Monday. The Buckeyes probably have a slight edge in the ground game because of a more experienced offensive line and the versatility of Miller.
The X-factor in the game could be Ohio State receiver DeVier Posey. He missed most of the year while serving a suspension for multiple issues, but he will play in Monday’s bowl game. Posey is one of the most talented receivers in the Big Ten and the best deep threat Ohio State has. He should serve as a nice security blanket for the inexperienced Miller, giving an added dimension to the Buckeyes’ run-heavy attack.
While suspensions and distractions have hurt Ohio State throughout the year, the bowl game is a chance to start fresh. He Buckeyes know what penalties they will face from the NCAA, and they know who will be coaching them next season and beyond. The peace of mind should only help a team that still has a stingy defense and can run the football with a variety of weapons. The Gators’ speed could give Ohio State some issues, but Florida just doesn’t have the offensive weapons it needs to pull this one out.
Prediction: Ohio State Buckeyes (+2) Cover the Spread
Free College Football Picks and NCAAF Predictions: Ohio St +2 to cover the spread
|2012 Gator Bowl: Ohio St vs Florida
Time: 1 PM EST on ESPN2
Vegas Odds – Favorite: Florida -1.5 Total: Over/Under 44
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