Thursday, December 29, 2011

College Football Bowl Preview- Champs Sports Bowl- Notre Dame vs. Florida St.

by John Huffstetler

Thursday- 5:30 PM EST- Champs Sports Bowl- Florida St. (8-4) (-3.5) vs. Notre Dame (8-4) O/U 46.5- A disappointing season for both of these squads who entered the 2011 campaign with BCS aspirations. Florida St.'s season ended with 3 early season losses to Okla, Clem and Wake Forest, the first two of which came without starting QB EJ Manuel. Although consistency on offense became an issue all season, the defense was less than spectacular in their losses to WF and Clem, allowing 35 points in each contest. Outside of those two games, the defense performed magnificently all year, allowing just 11.2 points per game in their other 10 contests. For the season, the defense ranked 5th nationally allowing just 4.1 yards per play (YPP). While the defense struggled in early losses, the offense struggled in the last two games, scoring just 14 points each in games against Virginia and Florida (7 pts came from a defensive score) and gaining just 95 yards in the finale against Florida.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame's season was over after just two games, losing a sloppy game to South Florida, and then collapsing in a 2nd week loss to Michigan. Outside of a week 3 drubbing of Michigan St, the rest of their season was uneventful, losing to their two quality foes easily; however, they did beat 4 low-end bowl teams in that stretch (Air Force, Wake Forest, Purdue, and Pitt). The offense can put up points in bunches (59 vs Air Force, 56 vs Navy, 45 vs Maryland and 38 vs Purdue) and ranks 26th in YPP, but struggled to find consistency posting 20 points or less 5 times this year. Their defense was their more consistent unit down the stretch holding their last 5 opponents to 16.2 ppg.

Prediction- Both teams will struggle to find their rhythm offensively as both teams are playing terrific defense late in the season. I expect Florida St. with their stronger defensive unit and better athletes to outlast the Irish in a defensive battle. Score-20-16 Florida St.

Gambling Perspective- Plays- 7-3 (1-0 on big plays)
Leans- 6-1

No lean on the spread
. Florida St is playable at less than 3, but this could easily be a field goal game. If I see a Fla St. -2.5 before kick, I will consider it. Play the Under at 46.5. These offenses will struggle and points will be at a premium in this field position battle.

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