SEC Predictions Week 2: Picking Games Against the Spread

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Sep 5, 2015; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators tight end C’yontai Lewis (80) runs the ball in for a touchdown against the New Mexico State Aggies during the second quarter at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

  • Date: Saturday September 12, 2014
  • Time: 5PM Eastern
  • Location: Gainesville, Florida
  • TV Channel: ESPN2
  • Spread: Florida -21
  • Over/Under Total: 56

The Jim McElwain era is now underway in Gainesville, and the new head coach passed his first test with flying colors in a 61-13 victory over New Mexico State in Week 1. The Gators were simply dominant, tallying an impressive 606 yards of total offense and 28 first downs while allowing just 200 yards and eight first downs on defense.

Having not yet settled on a full-time quarterback, McElwain saw great production from both Treon Harris (14-for-19, 215 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs) and Will Grier (15-for-17, 164 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs). The Gators also piled up 224 rushing yards on 42 carries (5.3 per attempt) and four different runners scored touchdowns, including Grier.

Of course, we should expect East Carolina to pose more of a challenge in Week 2. The Pirates were 8-5 last season, which included a 28-20 loss to Florida in the Birmingham Bowl. The Gators are very familiar with ECU, but because of the coaching change in Gainesville and the changes in schemes that came with it, the Pirates are less familiar with this year’s Florida squad.

Also, ECU will be without record-setting quarterback Shane Carden. Blake Kemp got the start last week against Towson and threw for 235 yards, but the star of the 28-20 victory was running back Chris Hairston, who ran for 154 yards and four touchdowns.

Florida is a better team in 2015, and the Pirates aren’t likely to be as good as they were a year ago. However, East Carolina is consistently one of the strongest Group of Five programs in the country and they have a history of playing very well against powerhouse programs. Expect the Pirates to keep this one close until the Gators pull away in the fourth quarter.

Next: Kentucky at South Carolina