(4) Florida State vs. South Florida
Time: 6 PM EST, Sat
Spread: Fla St -17
M/L: FSU -800, SFLA +600
Last week it was the miraculous play of E.J. Manuel that brought FSU from behind to beat a tough SEC rival Clemson. The Seminoles went on a 35-3 run over the final 20 minutes of the game, to beat the then No. 10 ranked Tigers.
Manuel beamed after what has been one of the best performances in what may now be considered as a possible Heisman season. He said “we (just) knew we had to keep scoring points to help (the) defense out.” The Tigers are capable of putting up a lot of points, so Manuel and the WR core of the Seminoles came to the rescue.
Manuel finished with 380 yards and two TDs, while throwing no interceptions and averaging 10.9 yards per pass. By all accounts, the then- 15/1 underdog to win the Heisman, had a performance that elevated his stature among the top QBs in the NCAA.
Adding to Manuel’s arm was the running of tailbacks Chris Thompson and James Wilder. They combined for 168 rushing yards, and Thompson now has 300 yards in his two ACC contests thus far. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney commented the obvious, saying that the team simply could not stop FSU from pounding it out on the ground.
The Seminoles are 8th in the nation in rushing yards, with 281.0 per game. They rank second in scoring, averaging 56.3 points per game.
The Bulls have had tough weeks back to back now, losing in week three to Rutgers, and then losing to a hot Ball State squad last week. Ball State has won back to back weeks as an underdog, so the Bulls were just next to fall victim to a team that oddsmakers have underestimated. Still, for all Rutgers and Ball State are and were, they are not the Florida State Seminoles. The FSU squad is going to prove to be a bit much for the Bulls, who already give up 24.5 points per game, despite not having faced a single ranked opponent.
If the Bulls are to cover the 17 point spread set by college football oddsmakers, it will be o the shoulders of a huge performance by star senior QB B.J. Daniels. Daniels has a better QB rating than last year, but has already thrown six interceptions and been sacked three times, in four games. His nine touchdown passes more or less negate those negatives, but improvement is still quite possible for Daniels, who had just a 45.5 percent completion ratio in the loss to Rutgers, while also throwing three of his six interceptions that game.
The Bulls still do rank in the top quarter of teams in passing, clocking in at 27th with 290.3 yards per game, but FSU has an excellent backfield to counter that pass attack, and Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes have done an excellent job of shutting down the wideouts so far.
The Bulls will have to counter Chris Thompson and James Wilder Jr. somehow. And when they’re not carrying it, Manuel is. The Seminoles just pose too many problems for this South Florida defense.
The Bulls DL lacks depth, and are still adjusting to a new defensive coordinator in Chris Cosh. Cosh has tried to make the Bulls better at closing out games, but the experience against Ball State shows that old bad habits die hard. The Bulls chances in the Big East are diminished by the fact that they just can’t manage to win close games.
The Final Word
The Seminoles have been good in non-conference play, and usually cover the spread (6 of the last 8) and the Bulls are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 home games against teams with winning road records. The Bulls are also only 1-6 ATS in their last 7 following an SU loss.
Prediction: FSU covers the spread, and the total goes UNDER as it has 10 of the last 11 times against Non-conference opponents, and the Bulls are UNDER 4 of the last 5 against ACC teams, as well.
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