FRIDAY NIGHT UPDATE on 12/11/20: DraftKings has now adjusted Alabama to a 13.5-point favorite vs. Florida. The total is 73.5 points. Also, Clemson has moved to a 9.5-point favorite with a total of 60.5.
On Tuesday night, DraftKings opened top-ranked and unbeaten Alabama (9-0 straight up, 7-2 against the spread) as a 14.5-point favorite vs. Florida in the 2020 SEC Championship Game. The betting shop put a -117 price attached to wagers on the Crimson Tide, while gamblers backing UF had a -104 price.
These old-school SEC rivals are set to collide in Atlanta on Dec. 19. The Gators, who DraftKings initially had as +390 money-line underdogs, have lost six consecutive games to the Crimson Tide. The book moved Florida (8-1 SU, 4-4-1 ATS) to +350 on the money line shortly after opening, while ‘Bama can be had to win outright at -590 odds (risk $590 to win $100).
Like I tweeted on Monday, FanDuel opened Alabama as a 14-point favorite. That number is now -14.5 at a -105 price, while Florida is +14.5 (-115). FanDuel has the Tide at -700 on the money line, leaving the Gators at +470 (risk $100 to win $470). No total has been released yet at either shop but like I’ve been saying for more than a month, we can expect to potentially see the largest ‘over/under’ in SEC football history.
(I’m referencing every total ever in the SEC — regular season and postseason — but will point out that the SEC Championship Game has had only had two totals in the 60s, with the 62-point total in 2018 being the highest. Alabama beat UGA 35-28 behind the late-game heroics of Jalen Hurts in 2018, with the 63 combined points slithering ‘over’ the total. In 2010, Auburn blasted South Carolina 56-17 with the 73 combined points soaring ‘over’ the 61-point tally. I think this year’s total could be in the 80s. You can view the entire ATS history of SEC Championship Game since its inception in 1992 at this link from our friends over at VegasInsider.)
This will be the first meeting since 2009 in which Florida has an elite throwing quarterback that’s on the same level as the dude taking snaps for Nick Saban’s squad.
In 2009, Alabama routed the Gators 32-13 at the Georgia Dome. Saban ran Urban Meyer out of the SEC that night in The ATL.
In Saban’s second season at Alabama in 2008, Florida beat the Tide 31-20 before winning its most recent national title with a win over Oklahoma at the BCS Championship Game in Miami. (I remember…because I was at both of those games!)
Dan Mullen’s 29-6 record in the first 35 games of his tenure at Florida is better by one game than that of Steve Spurrier and Meyer’s 28-7 starts at UF. Mullen was calling plays for the Gators as their offensive coordinator in the 2008 win over the Tide, but he had taken the head-coaching gig at Mississippi St. and wasn’t a part of UF’s staff in the 2009 loss to ‘Bama.
UF has been a double-digit underdog only once on Mullen’s watch. The Gators lost 42-28 as 14-point underdogs at eventual national champion, LSU, last season for a push. However, UF had two sustained drives end deep in the red zone, failing on fourth down and goal late in the fourth quarter once after Kyle Trask was intercepted in the end zone midway through the final stanza of his first career road start.
Alabama has won all nine of its games this season by margins of 15 points or more, including this past Saturday’s 55-17 win at LSU that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. UF has won all eight of its games by margins of 12 points or more. The Gators led nearly the entire way in College Station on Oct. 10, but they blew an 11-point second-half lead in a 41-38 loss to the Aggies at Kyle Field for their lone defeat of the season.
Florida is 5-1-2 ATS with five outright wins in eight games as an underdog during Mullen’s tenure. The Gators drilled Georgia 44-28 as three-point ‘dogs in their lone such spot this season, leading 38-21 at intermission before hitting the brakes on their offensive attack.
UF closes its regular-season at home Saturday as a 23-point favorite vs. LSU, while Alabama is -32 at Arkansas this weekend.
The Gators have been without starting senior DE Jeremiah Moon since he suffered a foot injury vs. UGA. Mullen said Monday that Moon should be ready for the Alabama game but is unlikely to play vs. LSU. Senior starting safety Shawn Davis missed last week’s win at UT and is ‘questionable’ vs. LSU.
The SEC announced Tuesday that a capacity crowd of 16,500 will be allowed at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
In the ACC Championship Game scheduled for Dec. 19, DraftKings opened Clemson (9-1 SU, 4-6 ATS) as a 7.5-point favorite (at a -113 price) vs. Notre Dame (+7.5, -108). The Tigers are -360 on the money line, leaving the Fighting Irish at +250 odds to beat Dabo Swinney’s team for a second time this season.
When these teams met in South Bend on Nov. 7, Brian Kelly’s team beat the Tigers 47-40 in double overtime as a five-point underdog. The 87 combined points soared ‘over’ the 51-point total.
Notre Dame (10-0 SU, 5-5 ATS) defeated a Clemson team that was without junior QB Trevor Lawrence, who missed two mid-season games after testing positive for COVID-19.
True freshman QB D.J. Uiagalelei filled in admirably for Lawrence, completing 29-of-44 passes for 439 yards and two TDs without an interception. Uiagalelei also had a one-yard TD run that put the Tigers up 40-33 after the first possession of the first extra session.
Clemson was without three defensive starters at Notre Dame, too. Senior LB Jack Skalski, sophomore DT Tyler Davis (started 13 games as true freshman in 2019 and garnered first-team All-ACC honors) and sophomore LB Mike Jones didn’t play in South Bend.
Davis has been back for the last two games, recording two tackles and one sack. Skalski left this past Saturday’s blowout win at Va. Tech after one series with a groin issue, but Clemson sports radio titan William Qualkinbush told me via direct message on Twitter this morning that Skalski is expected to be ready for the Irish on Dec. 19.
Skalski had 105 tackles, 10 QB hurries, 4.5 sacks, three tackles for loss and four passes broken up in 2019. After missing three games, Jones has played sparingly in Clemson’s last two games, but he hasn’t produced any stats.