2008 Music City Bowl Preview and Pick: Florida State Seminoles vs. Kentucky Wildcats

Florida State Seminoles (7-5) +10, 58.5 O/U vs. Kentucky Wildcats
(7-5) -10, 58.5 O/U, LP Field, Nashville, Tenn., 4 PM Eastern, Monday

by Badger of Predictem.com

Two schools that had a rocky ending to the 2007 season meet in the
Music City Bowl on New Years Eve when the Kentucky Wildcats return
to Nashville for a repeat engagement, this time against the Florida
State Seminoles.

Florida State not only has lost two of their last three games (the
last one 45-12 to Florida), but the Seminoles were rocked in the
weeks leading up to the bowl game with suspensions of multiple
starters and 20 players in all. This is the Seminoles 26th straight
bowl appearance, a worthy stat for all of you Bobby Bowden haters.

Kentucky was on top of the world on October 13th, following their
43-37 upset of then-No. 1 LSU. The Wildcats failed to live up to the
hype however, dropping four of the last five games of the season
including a 52-50 shootout versus Tennessee on November 24th.

The line for this game opened with Kentucky as a 1.5-point favorite,
with a total of 55.5.

Florida State has struggled to execute first-year offensive
coordinator Jimbo Fishers scheme, mainly because neither quarterback
Drew Weatherford or Xavier Lee has the ability to run it. Weatherford
has become the starter for now, but his grasp is just barely good
for 84th in total yardage (360 ypg) and 91st in scoring (22.9 ppg).
Receiver DeCody Fagg ( 707 yds., 5 TDs) and running back Antone Smith
(661 yds., 3 TDs) are Weatherfords best weapons when the young
offensive line provides time for him to throw it.

Kentucky does not have any trouble at quarterback, as Andre Woodson
(3,351 yds., 36 TDs) is a future NFL prospect. The Wildcats are
limited with talent surrounding Woodson though, which is why they
struggled down the stretch with Woodson trying to do too much himself
(10 INTs). Kentucky ended the year 25th in total yards per game
(438.6) and 15th in scoring offense at 36.7 per game.

The Seminoles continue to play sound on defense, which goes a long
way toward explaining their consecutive bowls streak. The 38th-
overall unit does a real nice job stopping the run (114.4 ypg 21st)
and pressuring the quarterback. Their 21.9 points per game average
ended the season as 31st in the NCAA. But the suspensions hurt the
Seminoles defense the most, taking away their best corner and a lot
of backup depth.

Kentucky sports a defense that is 67th in yardage allowed (390.2 ypg)
because they get gouged in big chunks by the run (93rd - 200.2 ypg).
The Wildcats also give up a lot of big plays for scores, because the
allow 29.8 points each game (81st).

These two schools have never met on the football field, so the lack
of head-to-head data leaves just the standard betting trends to
consider.

Kentucky was a barely break-even bet, going just 6-5 ATS in 2007.
They were however a better bet then the Seminoles, as Florida State
was a disappointing 5-7 versus the number. Florida State was starting
to cover with regularity at midseason before running into Virginia
Tech and Florida down the stretch (both non-covers, hence 3-2 ATS in
last 5).

The over/under trends are similar to the spread trends very
mediocre. Neither team really has a great O/U record (FSU 5-7, Kent.
6-5), so they sort of play up to their competition. Kentucky did fall
under the total three games in a row prior to the 102-point blowout
versus Tennessee. And Florida State stayed under the total in their
final two games of the season, and 3 of their last 5 overall.

The line in this game has been affected by the academic scandal at
Florida State in a big way. After the scandal broke the game was
removed from the board altogether for a few days, but now you can
find the number at some offshore sportsbooks with Kentucky as a 10-
point favorite. The total is currently at 58.5, which moved up a few
points as well when news of the FSU defense was getting racked with
suspensions. Florida State is +341 on the moneyline, while Kentucky
is -391 on the moneyline.

Badgers Pick: If you liked Kentucky when this game opened (which
means you got it at -1 or so), why wouldnt you like the Wildcats now
with FSU fielding half of a team. But lets keep in mind here that
they lost only a few starters, and FSU is the kind of program where
backups are sometimes better than the starter anyway. I really liked
FSU before, now I like it less but I still believe the Seminoles
cover the 10-point spread. I might even make a small wager on the FSU
moneyline (+341). Take Florida State and the points.