No. 9 Florida State Seminoles (10-2 SU, 8-4 ATS) vs. No. 18 Houston Cougars (12-1 SU, 8-5 ATS)
Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl Preview
Date/Time: Thursday December 31st, 12:00PM EST
Where: Georgia Dome Atlanta, G.A.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: FSU -7.5/HOU +7.5
Over/Under Total: 54.5
One of the biggest bowl games prior to the New Year will take place on New Years Eve when the no. 9 ranked Florida State Seminoles meet the no. 18 Houston Cougars inside the Georgia Dome for the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. Both teams have already reached big win totals with Florida State at 10-2 SU and the AAC Champions Houston that finished 12-1 SU. Obviously Florida State has been one of the best teams in the country over the last several years but Tom Hermans Cougars are ready to capitalize on their opportunity to break into the upper echelon of college football.
Once the season ended, Tom Hermans name was on the top of several schools lists for their head coaching vacancies. However, Houston was able to keep their prized young coach in town after an extremely successful 12-1 season with the opportunity to eclipse 13 wins in just his first season. Obviously, Herman had a lot of talent to build off of but he has done a great job of getting the best out of his players. This team has played like they have something to prove all season and that sort of mindset kind of fits the bill for what Houston is trying to accomplish by knocking off Florida State in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl.
The Seminoles are 7.5 point favorites over the Cougars. The early action has been pretty even with Houston getting the slight edge from the betting public with 53% of the early action favoring the Cougars. I personally think the 7.5 points seemed a little high when I first saw this line. However, Florida State has one of the better defenses in the country to attack Houstons reputable offense. The Seminoles rank 15th in the FBS yielding just 327 yards per game. Additionally, Florida State arguably has a rather sizeable talent gap across the board. The Seminoles are loaded with 4-5 star talent across both sides of the ball and it will be interesting to see if that talent gap shows throughout this intriguing matchup.
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Though Florida State has the advantage on defense and arguably a decent size talent gap if you keep close tabs on recruiting, I still believe Houston has the ability to contend in this football game due to their weapons on offense. Florida State is very dependent upon their running attack primarily behind the legs of running back Dalvin Cook. Cook has been one of the best tailbacks in the country this season with 1,658 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground.
Quarterback Everettt Golson started the year off strong throwing the football but faded down the stretch. As a result, the Seminoles have remained true to their ground game. Obviously that opens the possibility for Houston to load the box in attempt to stall the Seminoles rushing attack. However, that is easier said than done. Cook has only been held to less than 100 rushing yards just once in the last 7 games and I expect that he will be the key focus again for the offense inside the Georgia Dome.
However, I still think this game does not matchup particularly well for the Seminoles. I mentioned the underdog factor earlier with this being Houstons chance to knock off one of the most prestigious teams in the country. Additionally, the matchups favor the Cougars in several ways I believe. Houstons defense is really good against the run ranking 11th in the FBS yielding just 116 yards per game. If the Cougars can remain strong against the run, things could get really interesting if Florida State is forced into passing situations to move the football.
More importantly Houston has a ton of offensive weapons that will make things tough on Florida States defense. Quarterback Greg Ward Jr is one of the more exciting players in college football. Ward threw for 2,590 yards with 16 scores and 5 picks on the season. He was even more dangerous on the ground rushing for 1,041 yards with 19 touchdowns. Running back Kenneth Farrow is closing in on the 1,000 yard plateau as well and has already posted 12 touchdowns. Meanwhile wide receiver Demarcus Ayers has caught 89 passes for 1,140 yards with 6 touchdowns on the season. Therefore if you notice, Houston has plenty of weapons that could potentially give Florida States defense a hard time if they all stay involved throughout the game.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I think Houston wins the game. Houston +7.5!
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