Underdog status rare for UF
Published: Friday, October 1, 2010 at 2:40 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 1, 2010 at 2:40 p.m.
It's been a long time since Florida football fans have gotten a taste of what it's like to be the underdog. For a majority of players on the Gator roster, Saturday night's matchup against No. 1 Alabama will be the first time they are picked to lose.
But while Las Vegas casinos know that the Gator Nation is everywhere, its citizens have been slow to put their money where their pride is.
The gambling line opened earlier this week with Florida as 8.5-point underdog. That number grew to nine briefly on Tuesday before falling to 7.5 amid a flurry of pro-Gator bets. The line is at 8. More movement is expected before the 8 p.m. kickoff in Tuscaloosa. The Gators have never been 9-point underdogs under coach Urban Meyer.
"It's just speculation at this point," said Jay Kornegay, Sportsbook Director at the Las Vegas Hilton, "but I can see the number going back up to 8.5 or nine by Saturday afternoon."
Kornegay says its the first time the casino has had Florida as more than a touchdown underdog since 2007, when the then-No.9 Gators traveled to No. 1 LSU. Though the Tigers were favored by 7.5 that day, they escaped with a 28-24 victory.
The following year, Florida was a six-point underdog to Oklahoma in the BCS title game, Kornegay said, but left south Florida with the championship following a 24-14 victory.
But the five odds-makers who set the line at the Las Vegas Hilton, the largest sportsbook in America, aren't taking those past games into consideration. All five have different opinions on Saturday night's game, according to Kornegay. History favors Alabama, as the last 27 top-ranked teams that faced a ranked team at home have won the game.
"Alabama's coming off of a really difficult road game and the jury is still out on Florida," Kornegay said. "We're not sure how good they are or how much they've dropped in the last few years. We're still trying to figure that out.
"We started with 8.5 because that's right between a touchdown and 10. It's right dead in the middle. We think it'll be somewhere around there."
According to Kornegay, once the early Pacific Standard Time games conclude, wagers usually pick up for the evening games. That's when, in his estimation, the line could shift back to as many as nine points in favor of Alabama.