2009 Champs Sports Bowl Preview and Pick – Florida State Seminoles vs. Wisconsin Badgers

Florida State Seminoles (8-4) -5, 52.5 O/U vs. Wisconsin Badgers (7-5)
Champs Sports Bowl, Orlando, F.L., Dec 27th 4:30PM, Eastern

By Jay Horne of Predictem.com

The ACC and Big 10 annual showdown will take place in Orlando, Florida in the Champs Sports Bowl. Last years game was an exciting match-up with Boston College edging out Michigan State by a field goal. This years battle promises much of the same with Florida State and Wisconsin. The Badgers ended the season winning three straight games and will try to get to the 8 wins mark while the Seminoles are in seek of their first nine win season since 2004.

Florida State slipped up a bit as the season winded down losing 3 of their last 5 games after a 6-1 start. The Seminoles has faired well on both sides of the ball this season. The Florida State offense has averaged 27 points per game this season placing them as one of the top 30 scoring offenses in the nation. The Noles running game ranks right outside the top 30 averaging 180 yards per game on the ground. However, the real strength on the field this season has been the play of the Seminole defense. Florida State ranks 14th in America in overall defense holding teams to 291 total yard per game. The Seminoles also have a secondary that is ranked in the top 10 in college football holding opposing air attacks to only 164 yards per game. The real challenge heading into the bowl match-up will be the rushing defense that will have their hands full with a very solid Wisconsin rushing attack.

The Badgers sport the number 14 ranked rushing offense in all of college football. Running backs P.J Hill and John Clay have both received a number of carries this season and have been very effective in the process. Hill is a junior who has racked up over 1,000 yards this season on the ground while Clay is a very talented freshman that is averaging 5.9 yards per carry. Clay has accounted for 845 yards this season with 9 touchdowns while Hill has taken on the majority workload with 211 carries for 1021 yards and 13 touchdowns. Together these two guys present a wide variety of problems for opposing defenses. The Wisconsin offense has put together 405 yards of total offense per game on average this season and they hope to keep things rolling when they take on a talented Seminole defense.

Bookmaker have the early betting line favoring Florida State by 5 points. The over/under total for the contest has been posted at 52.5 points considering both teams have a tendency to find the end zone. ML numbers have Florida State listed as -220 favorites while holding the Badgers as +180 underdogs.

Wisconsin will need the support of the passing attack if they are not able to run the ball against the Florida State defense. QB Dustin Sherer only started the 2nd half of the season for the Badgers along with limited success. On the season, Sherer has completed only 54% of his passes for 1,257 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 5 picks. The passing game could play a big factor in this game especially considering the Florida State defensive front is a quick strong group. If the Badgers can find a way to gain support through the air, then they will be very tough to defend behind the legs of P.J Hill and John Clay.

Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder has had similar success compared to Dustin Sherer for the Badgers. Ponder has struggled at times through the air. On the season, Ponder has completed 55% for 1807 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. The interceptions have really been a problem, but one thing that Ponder does give Florida State is an extra running force. Ponder has over 400 yards rushing on the season with 4 touchdowns and can make some things happen with his feet. When Ponder is not running the ball, look for the Seminoles to hand the ball off to senior running back Antone Smith. Smith has 4.7 yards per carry average along with a team leading 14 touchdowns. Florida State just like Wisconsin will be trying to establish the running game. The question is which team will establish the ground game the best?

Betting Trends…
Florida State has been on both sides of the win/loss total equally ATS this season. The Noles are 5-5 ATS this season while reaching the over total in 4 of their past 6 games. Wisconsin is also 5-5 on the season ATS while having a 4-1-1 record in the over/under total for their last 6 games. The Badgers are 6-2 this season when scoring at least 20 points in a game while Florida State is 8-1 when scoring at least 20 points this season.

Jays Pick I think Wisconsin scores the upset in this game. The Badgers running game is better and I believe the Seminoles make some unnecessary turnovers. Take Wisconsin +5