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Miami Hurricanes vs. Florida State Seminoles Preview and Pick

Miami Hurricanes (0-0)  vs.  No. 19 Florida State Seminoles (0-0) 8:00 p.m. EST, September 7th, 2009, Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Florida. TV: ESPN
By Oracle of

Point Spread: FSU -6.5/Miami +6.5
Over/Under: 47.5

With a lot of the off-season focus on a cheating scandal back in 2006-07 that would take away 14 wins, Bobby Bowden’s Florida State Seminoles are coming into this college football season a little under the radar.

Bowden, who is 79 years young and chasing Joe Paterno for most collegiate wins all-time, returns for his 34th season at the helm. He has some good talent back this year, including quarterback Christian Ponder, as a season ago they ended on a good note with a 42-13 bowl game win over Wisconsin.

Miami comes into this contest with high hopes – and also a tough schedule. They’ll face four ranked opponents in a row to start off the season, culminating with a game against the mighty Oklahoma Sooners.

Last year’s contest between the two squads surprisingly became a high scoring shootout, as the Seminoles came out ahead, 41-39.

The over/under opened up at a total of 48.5 for this in-state rivalry contest. Neither team seemed to be very dynamic overall last year offensively, except for their head-to-head contest, while each program lost a couple of key players offensively. That may have caused the line to open up a little smaller than expected this time around.

Meanwhile, the ranked Seminoles are 6.5 point favorites at most online sportsbooks.

The Seminoles lost a few key ingredients on offense at the skilled position, but return junior quarterback Christian Ponder, who seemed to find a rhythm toward the end of last season.

Ponder ended up throwing for over 2,000 yards and 14 touchdowns, but also had 13 picks. It doesn’t help him much that two of his favorite targets in Preston Parker and Greg Carr were lost to graduation, however, he’ll look to a couple of younger wideouts to get the ball to. In the big win against Miami last year, Ponder threw for 159 yards and scampered for 144.

Running back Antoine Smith was also lost to graduation, but is replaced by Jermaine Thomas, who averaged a STOUT 7 yards per carry last season.

Consistency and execution will be the key for FSU not only this year, but against Miami, since they have a plethora of newer faces stepping in.

Their rival Hurricanes have had question marks galore as far as the quarterback position goes. Robert Marve started last season, got suspended, then started, and then was benched. In the off-season, Marve transferred to Purdue. Jacory Harris, who split time with Marve in 2008, will now take over the full time duties.

Also, two of their backup quarterbacks to start out camp this year have asked for their walking papers, so the depth behind Harris is thin for head coach Randy Shannon.

Harris looked impressive as a true freshman last year by throwing for 12 touchdowns and nearly 1,200 yards. His backfield mate will take some of the load off of his shoulders, as Graig Cooper comes back after gaining 841 yards on the ground a season ago.

In the game against FSU last year, Miami found themselves down big at the half, 24-3, however they made a nice comeback. Harris didn’t have a big impact in that contest (3-for-7, 32 yards, 1 INT), and Cooper was held to just 31 yards on the ground by the tough FSU defense. If Miami wants any chance of a victory, they’ll need both players to step it up.

Bettors may have questions about what the retooled FSU offense is going to be like, and rightfully so. They haven’t been their normal offensive juggernaut the past few years, although the potential showed its face in 2008. Instead, their defense has held things together for them.

This is why the over/under is an interesting move here. The over is 5-1 in the last six home games for the Seminoles. It’s also 4-1 in their last five as favorites of this margin.

Last year the high scoring affair took place in Miami. Recently, the Hurricanes tend not to score so well all the road as the under is 4-1 in their last five away games as a dog.

Both squads have pretty good trends as far as the spread goes. Although Miami may not go over the point total on the road, they are 4-1 ATS in their last five road games as the underdog.

Overall, FSU is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games, and 4-1 in their last 5 home games.

Here is the kicker for bettors, though. The underdog has a huge trend of prevailing. In their last seven head-to-head match ups, the dog is 7-0. Meanwhile, the high scoring affair last season might have been just an enigma, because the under is 6-2 in the last 8 m meetings between the squads.

The Hurricanes are trying to get back to prominence, but the ageless Bowden and his Seminoles may have the upper hand in this game.

Oracle’s Pick: Look for Miami to shock a lot of people by sticking with the Seminoles. This may be Jacory Harris’ coming out party, as the Hurricanes stay within the spread and may just pull off the upset with a straight up win at Doak Campbell, HOWEVER, I feel the UNDER 47.5 is a safer bet.

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