Cotton Bowl Betting Preview – Florida vs. Oklahoma

The first New Year’s Six Bowl will pit the Florida Gators against the Oklahoma Sooners in the Cotton Bowl. These teams have only played one other time in their history, and that was when the Gators beat the Sooners 24-14 in the 2009 BCS Championship Game. While an Oklahoma victory would not avenge that loss, it would be a little balm for the Sooners and their fans after all these years.

The Cotton Bowl will take place at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Wednesday, December 30, at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

College Football Betting Odds

Florida +4

Oklahoma -4

Total 67

We have seen a lot of line movement in this game. Florida opened as a two-point favorite against Oklahoma, but several key Gators’ starters decided to opt out, flipping the line in favor of the Sooners. That hasn’t had the same impact on the total though as that number has remained relatively steady.

Florida Offense vs. Oklahoma Defense

Heisman Trophy finalist Kyle Trask has had one of the best seasons in Florida history. Trask took the Gators back to the SEC Championship Game, and although they fell short against Alabama, they gave the Crimson Tide a tough test in a 52-46 loss. He has made himself a probable first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, completing 69.7 percent of his passes for 4,125 yards (10.1 YPA) with 43 touchdowns against just five interceptions.

Dan Mullen is happy that Trask is playing because Florida’s best three receivers are all sitting out, impacting the line. Kyle Pitts, Trevon Grimes, and Kadarius Toney have all decided to focus on the NFL Draft, leaving Trask without many options. Pitts was the best tight end in the country this year, so his absence will be particularly missed. The three players were responsible for over 2,200 receiving yards and 31 touchdowns this season.

Jacob Copeland tested positive for COVID-19 this week, further thinning the depth of the receiving corps. Three of the four leading receivers coming into this game are now running backs, and Penn State transfer Justin Shorter is likely to be the No. 1 receiver.

The Gators haven’t been great at running the ball. Dameon Pierce and Malik Davis are both averaging 4.7 YPC, but the team as a whole is averaging 4.0 YPC. That means it could be a long day for this potent offense.

Oklahoma has a much better defense than you might think given this team’s reputation. The Sooners rank 21st in the nation in defensive SP+. They excel at stopping the run, allowing 3.2 YPC and 95.8 YPG on the ground, but the pass defense has been an issue. To make matters worse, cornerback Tre Brown is opting out and safety Justin Broiles is questionable with a lower body injury.

Oklahoma Offense vs. Florida Defense

It was a rough start to the season for the Sooners, especially on offense. Oklahoma lost its first two FBS games, but Spencer Rattler came into his own as the season progressed. The freshman overcame the mistakes that plagued him against Kansas State and finished the season as one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the Big 12. He isn’t the same running threat as former Oklahoma quarterbacks though.

Rhamondre Stevenson and T.J. Pledger have been a formidable running back tandem. Oklahoma doesn’t run the ball much, but both Stevenson and Pledger are efficient runners. Stevenson is averaging 5.8 YPC while Pledger is averaging 4.7 YPC.

The Sooners’ top tight end won’t be able to play in this game. Austin Stogner is the team’s third leading receiver, but he hasn’t been able to take the field in almost two months. However, Oklahoma will have Marvin Mims, Theo Wease, and Charleston Rambo.

Florida’s defense has not been good this season. That could lead to defensive coordinator Todd Grantham being let go after the Cotton Bowl. The Gators are allowing 28.6 PPG and 404.7 YPG, and the secondary has been a particular problem. Marco Wilson won’t be playing in this game either, so Rattler has the potential to post big numbers.

Prediction

The Sooners have been red hot over the last few months, and they have almost their full contingent available. Florida’s vaunted passing game will struggle without so many options, making Oklahoma a nice bet.

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