The top overall seed hasn’t won the College World Series in a quarter century, and this year’s No. 1, Tennessee, was fortunate to avoid a Cinderella upset in the Super Regionals.

Evansville took the Vols to a do-or-die Game 3 in Knoxville before bowing out.

So if the favorite (+290) to win in Omaha is looking a bit shaky, who should you be backing? Here’s why we’re recommending the longest shot on the odds board.

Season-long metrics dictate that Florida should be priced as a substantial long shot to win the College World Series.

Sportsbooks agree and have installed the Gators as the longest shot in the field.

A big reason for this lack of faith is UF’s much-maligned pitching staff.

The Gators enter Omaha with the 11th-best staff ERA. Not in the country, in the state of Florida.

Programs like USF, Bethune-Cookman, and Florida International all had better pitching this season than the Gators (6.16 ERA, 158th).

But Florida isn’t some plucky upstart that is getting lucky.

The Gators were a consensus top-three team in the preseason, grappled with the nation’s most difficult schedule, and got better and better down the stretch.

Two months ago, they were adrift, staring down the barrel of a losing season.

A first-round exit in the SEC Tournament seemed to seal their fate, but they snuck into the NCAA Tournament and have flipped the switch.

They cobbled together three elite pitching performances in the Regionals, holding Nebraska to just two runs and repeating that same feat twice over in 5-2 and 4-2 wins over Oklahoma State in Stillwater.

Then their bats came alive in the Super Regionals, plating 21 runs in two games to dispatch Clemson.

They have the collegiate version of Shohei Ohtani pulling double duty from the mound and plate.

Jac Caglianone struck out 82 batters as a starting pitcher and belted 33 home runs. In the Super Regionals, he hit a pair of dingers, drove in five runs and struck out six in 5 ²/₃ innings.

But the Gators have been more than “Jactani” in the postseason.

They’ve scored double digits in three of their six victories and orchestrated four come-from-behind wins.

Now UF gets a huge break by drawing Texas A&M in Bracket 2 in Omaha.

The Gators won their season series against the Aggies, shelling the previously invincible Ryan Prager.

Florida dispatched the Aggies’ ace (2 ¹/₃ innings, seven hits, six earned runs) and has the lineup to do it again at Charles Schwab Field.

If the Gators advance, they could also draw Kentucky in Bracket 2, and they played a thriller of a series against the Wildcats a month ago.

They lost two of three to UK, but took them to extras in each loss and were plus-6 in run differential for the series.

What I love most about this play is Florida’s overall experience both from a program perspective (14 CWS appearances) and from the dugout.


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This is manager Kevin O’Sullivan’s ninth trip to Omaha and he’s done a great job at keeping his team unified through a tumultuous season.

His pitching staff was strikingly green and it showed throughout most of the campaign.

But his young arms don’t look overmatched anymore and their path in Bracket 2 is considerably more advantageous than had they been placed in the loaded Bracket 1.

The fact that A&M surrendered 15 runs to Oregon last weekend gives me considerable hope that the Gators can crack Prager and the Aggies to get a run started in Omaha.

At 15/1, I’m happy to play the red-hot long shot.

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