Odds stacked against Gators

Glancing through the early lines, it's clear that it's going to be a difficult road for coach Will Muschamp and his team.

Doug Finger/Staff photographer
Published: Saturday, June 8, 2013 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, June 9, 2013 at 12:17 a.m.
A long time ago, I mean a really long time ago, I laid a bet on a baseball game with a bookie. I was young, foolish and certainly couldn't afford to lose the money. That night, the Los Angeles Dodgers beat Atlanta when a ground ball went through Jerry Royster's legs at shortstop to allow the tying run to score. Had he made the routine play, the Braves would have won the game. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. I never bet again with the exception of the friendly golf wager. It scarred me for life. I tell this story only because I was checking out the odds set by the Golden Nugget Casino the other day not because I wanted to make a bet but to see what the bookmakers thought of Florida's football team and its schedule.

It's ridiculous to think that anybody would bet on a November game in June because there's no telling about injuries or coaching changes or momentum this far out. But I suppose there are people who are taking Oregon and giving the four points against Stanford. Glancing through the early lines, it's clear that it's going to be a difficult road for coach Will Muschamp and his team. Of Florida's 12 games, six of them have a spread of six points or less. So load up on the blood pressure medication and Tums, Gator Nation. If it goes as expected, this is going to be another season that is going to be intense. I know, I always say that a college football season comes down to a handful of plays in a handful of games, but that seems to be even more of a point when it's a conservative offensive approach in the best conference in the land. Florida is an underdog in three games — 4 points at LSU, four points against Georgia and five points at South Carolina. The Gators are favored to win at Miami by only 2, by six at Missouri and by two at home against Florida State. So that's half the season that the bookies believe will come down to one play. Makes you pine for the good old days, huh? Now, I think I have buried the lead here far enough down the column. Because this is a column I've thought about writing for the last two months. Every time I suggest it, someone says something about me wanting to get into the Witness Protection Program. I mentioned my idea to my 12-year-old daughter and she said, “Dad, if you write that you'll get fired.” Sheesh. Anyway, the suggested headline for the column I wanted to write would be -- “How Tim Tebow Ruined Florida Football.” Calm down. Let me explain. My point is that during Tebow's run at UF, the Gators gobbled up points like they were hot dogs on Coney Island. They didn't just win, they won with highlight-reel plays and obscene scores. And they won with the most charismatic player the game has ever seen. He may be considered polarizing in the NFL, but in college Tebow was a polar bear. He was this massive personality who could not be ignored. It was a glorious time to be a Gator fan. But one of the by-products of his celebrity and the blowout wins was that a close win on the road isn't appreciated as much. You look at last year's Florida team. The Gators won 11 games, but even before their no-show at the Sugar Bowl, they were hardly considered a great team. That's the post-Tebow world we live in, where winning is not enough. You have to win with panache. You have to win by a lot. You can't win running the ball on the final 25 plays of the game. Well, you can but it's not going to be appreciated as much. Enjoy the summer and get ready to buckle up for a fall that looks like it's going to cost you your fingernails. Try to enjoy it.

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