Fading Florida: Will The Gators Have a Strong Year Against The Spread?

Myles ValentinContributor ISeptember 4, 2009

GAINESVILLE, FL - APRIL 18: Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the University of Florida celebrates after the spring football orange and blue game April 18, 2009 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

With Mr. Perfect himself, Tim Tebow leading the way and all defensive starters returning, the 2009 Florida Gators have a strong shot at becoming the first team to be back to back BCS (not National) Champions.

But this may be the year to bet against Florida.

The Gators were 13-1 straight up last year and were an amazing 11-2 ATS. While there is little doubt that Tebow's disciples will put together another impressive year, history shows that repeating the same success, against the spread, will be a bit more difficult.

2003 USC 12-1 (11-2 ATS)

2004 USC 13-0 (8-5 ATS)

Like the 2009 Gators big things were expected of the 2004 USC Trojans, who were returning JR QB Matt Leinart and SO RB Reggie Bush. The Hollywood hype surrounding this #1 ranked team was reflected in theย lines for that year.

The Trojans were double digit favorites in all but one regular season game and were favored by 25 or more points in five. In the previous year they were only 25+ point favorites once.

The team did not disappoint going 13-0 and blowing out Oklahoma in the BCS Title Game, but USC had trouble covering PAC 10 games on the road leading to a 3 win drop off in their ATS record.

2003 LSU 13-1 (11-2 ATS)

2004 LSU 9-3 (5-6-1 ATS)

The situation surrounding the defending BCS Champion LSU Tigers was different from Florida and USC. They were starting a new QB in Jamarcus Russell and were ranked a couple spots below USC at #4.

2004 was tough for the Tigers playing three ranked SEC teams on the road and dealing with rumors of Nick Saban's departure to the NFL. At Death Valley the oddsmakers showed no mercy as they were double digit favorites in six of their seven games at home. Of those six games in which they were double digit favorites, the Tigers only covered the spread twice.

2005 TEXAS 13-0 (11-2 ATS)

2006 TEXAS 10-3 (5-7 ATS)

Vince Young did the improbable, allowing Texas natives Matthew McConaughey and Lance Armstrong to rush the field after upsetting the USC Trojans at the Rose Bowl. In 2006 Matthew and Lance would return, but Vince headed to the NFL. A repeat 13-0 year was unlikely to occur, but still big things were expected with Texas ranked #3 in the preseason.

The Longhorns were decent that year going 10-3, but they saw a six point drop off in their ATS victories going from 11 to 5. Texas's covering problems occurred towards the end of the year, beating the spread only once in their last six games.

As with these past examples Florida bettors will have to deal with big numbers and improved efforts from SEC opponents. As defending champs, the Gators won't have to worry too much about margin of victory to impress the polls. So expect Urban Meyer to bring in his subs early in blowouts allowing for stressful backdoor opportunities.

Also Gator backers should be weary of in conference games. During the regular season last year, all Gator victories vs. SEC teams were by twenty points or more. History shows that USC, LSU, and Texas's ATS drop off, came at the hands of inconference rivals.

10 plus Gator wins ATS will be tough . But then again anything is possible. Their QB attends a school with one of the most attractive student populaces and answered "Yes" at a recent SEC press conference when asked if "he was saving himself for marriage".

Florida opens the season against Charleston Southern where they are 63 point favorites. Story reprinted with permission from covers.com


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