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Florida State Seminoles vs. Pittsburgh Panthers Point Spread - Pick

No. 11 Florida State Seminoles (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Pittsburgh Panthers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date and Time: Monday September, 2nd. 2013 9:00PM Eastern
Where: Heinz Field Pittsburgh, P.A.
TV: ESPN
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com

Point Spread: FSU -10.5/Pitt +10.5
Over/Under Total: 49

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College football’s edition of Monday Night Football kicks off on September 2nd when the no. 11 Florida State Seminoles travel to Heinz Field to battle the Pittsburgh Panthers in a Labor Day special. For the visiting number 11 Seminoles, Coach Jimbo Fisher has been trying to build Florida State back into a consistent national power since taking over the head coaching role in 2010. Last year the Seminoles inched ever so closer to that accomplishment by finishing 12-2 and capturing the ACC Championship. However, Florida State must replace some talent on each side of the ball in order to stay among the elite in college football this season and they will be tested out of the gates by a rugged Pittsburgh Panthers football team.

The Panthers faced a lot of struggles in 2012 finishing with a 6-7 record to mark their 2nd straight losing season. The good news is that Pittsburgh’s defense which ranked 17th overall in 2012 will return 9 of their starters. The defensive front especially will be a difficult group to block and the Panthers could easily be a top 15 defense by the end of the year if they live up to their talent. The bad news is that the offense has tons of questions marks and will have to find ways to overcome the losses of QB Tino Sunseri and RB Ray Graham. The offense also loses leading wide receiver Mike Shanahan but senior Devin Street has the potential to be a big playmaker in the receiving corps. Now the majority of the offensive responsibility will fall on the arm of Rutgers transfer Tom Savage. Savage’s only significant playing time was way back in 2009 when he helped lead the Scarlet Knights to a 9-4 campaign in his freshman season. Still even at that time, Savage completed just 52% passing during the 2009 season so it will be interesting to see if he is improved despite not seeing any real action in 3 years. Obviously Pittsburgh will only go as far as the offense can take them this year despite the talent on the defensive side of the ball.

So I listed the good news and the bad news for the Panthers entering 2013 but how about the worse news? Well that depends on how you look at it. Pittsburgh will embark on their first season in the ACC this year which means the immediate competition on the field is about to pick up practically overnight. While Pittsburgh may benefit from the conference upgrade in the long run with recruiting and an increase in profits, the immediate impact will be a more difficult schedule in 2013. Not only will the ACC schedule be tougher but they will get one of the ACC’s best in Florida State immediately to start the season.

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The Seminoles are looking to build off last year’s 12-2 mark despite losing some key playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. Both QB E.J Manuel and leading running back Chris Thompson are now gone. Luckily the Seminoles should not have any real setbacks in their backfield as both DeVonta Freeman and James Wilder return. Both tailbacks averaged 6 years per carry last season and combined for 19 touchdowns so the Seminoles running game should not miss a beat. The main concern is replacing Manuel behind center. Redshirt freshman Jameis Winston will be tasked with that particular challenge. Winston was the top quarterback recruit in the country in 2012. The freshman is a dual threat quarterback that should fit Jimbo Fisher’s system extremely well. Of course the big question is how long will it take the youngster to adjust?

While there may be a few uncertainties surrounding Winston’s immediate success, odds makers have marked Florida State as 10.5 point favorites over Pittsburgh in their Labor Day Night affair. Additionally the betting public has been all over the Seminoles with nearly 85% of all betting action favoring Florida State and the points. Florida State does sport one of the best defenses in the ACC each year and they will be stacked with superb talent yet again. However, Pittsburgh also has a defense that can frustrate the Seminoles if they do not come out sharp. So it will be interesting to see how the Seminoles play in their season opener and what perhaps that means for their chances to make a run at another ACC Championship in 2013.

Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I am going to side with the popular pick on this one and lay the points with the Seminoles. While Pittsburgh has a good defense, they simply do not have the offensive firepower to match the Seminoles to keep this one close for all 4 quarters. Take Florida State -10.5.

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