Florida State Seminoles (1-1, 0-2 ATS) at No. 7 BYU Cougars (2-0, 2-0 ATS)
LaVell Edwards Stadium Provo, Utah., Saturday September 19th, 7:00PM Eastern
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Florida State +7/BYU -7
The BYU Cougars have possibly been the biggest surprise story of the 2009 season in just a few weeks of football. The Cougars shocked the nation by taking down the defending Big 12 Champions led by Heisman Trophy Winner Sam Bradford and the Oklahoma Sooners in opening week action. The Cougars not only took down Oklahoma, but also blasted Tulane 54-3 last week. The Cougars start has been just what the programs needs and they are facing down a legitimate BCS Bowl berth if they can keep things together.
Florida State on the other hand has gotten off to the opposite of starts this season. The Seminoles dropped a heart breaker against inner-state rival Miami in their season opener falling 38-34. Florida State backed that performance with another dismal outing against Jacksonville State last weekend in just a 19-9 victory over the inferior Division II opponent. Florida State will look to rebound behind their strong passing offense led by quarterback Christian Ponder this Saturday night. Perhaps this is the opportunity for the Seminoles to right the ship before returning to conference play in a few weeks.
The game will feature two very talented quarterbacks in what could turn out to be a guns slinger affair. Max Hall is already receiving Heisman attention for his brilliant early season start. Hall threw for just less than 4,000 yards a year ago and has put together two straight 300 yard performances this season. The only thing holding Hall back from receiving a lot of Heisman attention is the fact of playing in the Mountain West and the occasional interceptions given up. Still, the Cougars passing attack is a force to be dealt with. McKay Jacobson and Dennis Pitta have gotten off to great starts combining for nearly 300 yards in the opening two games. Jacobson leads the team with 148 yards, but in earnest there are already 6 receivers that have totaled at least 50 yards receiving. Hall spreads the ball around well making it very difficult for opposing defenses.
On the other side of the field, Christian Ponder is not too shabby of a quarterback either. The Florida State quarterback has put up a respectable 618 yards in the first two games including 324 in last week’s win over Jacksonville State. Ponder has developed into a solid threat behind center in just a years time. WR Richard Goodman is the uncontested playmaker on the Seminoles passing attack. Goodman consistently gets his hands on the ball totaling 13 receptions already this season. However, tight end Caz Piurowski has the ability to slip from the offensive line and make plays as well. The Florida State offense will have to continue to find firepower from the passing game and they are to keep tempo with the BYU offense.
The defensive edge in the game definitely lies with the Cougars. BYU held Oklahoma to just 13 points and Tulane to just a single field goal. The Cougars defense is led by 8 seniors and they have all the ability to shut down offenses. Florida State defense capability is yet to be determined. They did not allow any big plays over the inferior Jacksonville State. However, the Seminoles secondary look flat awful against Miami allowing 386 yards through the air. Those numbers bodes warnings when a much better quarterback and receiving core line up across the field. If Florida State is to pull out the much needed victory, they must get a lift from the defense.
The defenses could be the difference in this battle. Although, usually when talented quarterbacks get together a lot of scoring takes place. If this game turns into a shootout, the turnovers could tell the story. Both teams have had trouble this year holding on to the ball and especially over the few years. Also, both quarterbacks have had big issues with interceptions. Hall threw 14 picks in 2008 while Ponder nearly equaled that total with 13 of his own. The interceptions are usually the momentum swinger in high scoring games and are worth keeping an eye on this Saturday.
Jay’s Pick - this ain’t your daddy’s Seminoles. BYU takes advantage of an untalented secondary and roll’s big. Take BYU -7