The Jan. 2 schedule of bowls begins from Tampa with the Outback Bowl and it has one of the smallest betting bowl totals of all because both No. 17 Florida of the SEC and Iowa of the Big Ten struggle offensively, but they can defend with the best of them. Both teams enter the Outback Bowl at 8-4 and are hoping to end the season on a high note with National Signing Day looming.
Florida vs Iowa Outback Bowl Odds, Expert Pick & TV Info
When: Monday, Jan. 2, 1 PM ET
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa
Opening NCAA Football Lines: UF -3 (40.5)
Why Bet on Florida?
Injuries took a toll on Jim McElwain’s Gators, who struggled offensively down the stretch. Eight starters were lost to severe injuries at some point of the 2016 season, including quarterback Luke Del Rio and linebacker Jarrad Davis. Florida’s season has taken a familiar path as 2015, with an offensive no-show in a loss to Florida State, followed by a blowout loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.
Florida ranks No. 13 out of 14 teams in the SEC in total yards accumulated, which is heavily influenced by inconsistency at quarterback. Due to the erratic nature of the Gators’ passing attack, the key to offensive execution will be establishing the run. Running back Jordan Scarlett is the most consistent offensive weapon the Gators have. He has nearly 800 rushing yards, but he’s a grinder and a slasher at the same time. His yards-per- attempt was dinged by Alabama’s stifling defense in the SEC Championship Game, in which Scarlett had 17 yards on 11 carries, but he will look to boost those numbers in the Outback Bowl.
“I’m pretty satisfied but I know I can do a lot better. And I’ll (be) looking to show that this game and for the continued years I’m here,” Scarlett said.
Florida has proven time and time again that its defense can carry the team against struggling offenses. On the season the Gators ranked in the top 10 nationally in scoring defense (17.9 PPG), passing defense (156.3 YPG) and total defense (298.3). Florida’s defense also coupled 73 tackles for loss with 30 sacks on the season. The Gators have two of the Top 5 cornerbacks in the country in Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson.
Why Bet on Iowa?
No one gave the Hawkeyes much of a chance against then-No. 3 Michigan at home on Nov. 12, especially a week after they lost at Penn State by 27 points. But an enormous defensive effort and Keith Duncan's field goal as time expired gave Iowa the 14-13 upset that upended the Big Ten race and turned around its own season. Iowa held Michigan, Illinois and Nebraska to a combined 23 points during a three-game winning streak to close the year.
And Iowa will be very motivated given the Hawkeyes have lost four straight bowl games, including a 45-16 embarrassment in the Rose Bowl last season in a game which wasn’t even that close. The combined first-half score of those four losses? Only 98 to 7. Quarterback C.J. Beathard is capable of stretching the field when the Hawkeyes need a spark from the passing attack. But more often than not, Iowa is going to lean on an old-school formula by featuring a pair of physical tailbacks and relying on a hard-nosed defense.
LeShun Daniels Jr. leads the Hawkeyes with 1,013 rushing yards 10 touchdowns on an average of 5.1 yards per carry. He has three different games with at least 150 rushing yards, including each of Iowa’s past two outings. Akum Wadley has run for 966 yards and 10 touchdowns on an average of 6.6 yards per carry. He has five 100-yard games, as well as 32 receptions for 294 yards and three touchdowns.
Already this season the Hawkeyes have won three games while scoring just 14 points. All-America cornerback Desmond King is typically around the ball — he has 13 interceptions and three fumble recoveries in his four seasons at Iowa.
Florida vs Iowa Outback Bowl Expert Pick: Florida Gators
Gators are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 bowl games.
Hawkeyes are 1-4- 1 ATS in their last 6 neutral site games.
Under is 5-1 in Gators last 6 games overall.
Go under that low total and take Florida on NCAA Football odds.