For all our NCAA Football fans, lets analyze the match-up between the two teams that will square off in this year’s Gator Bowl on January 1st. The Big East will send the West Virginia Mountaineers (9-3, 5-6 ATS), while HC Bobby Bowden will lead his Florida State Seminoles (6-6, 3-9 ATS) into one final bowl game betting bash before hanging it up after almost four decades in Tallahassee. West Virginia is a 2.5 point favorite according to the college bowl odds.
Florida State Offense vs. West Virginia Defense: The landscape of Florida State’s offense changed dramatically when QB Christian Ponder suffered a season-ending shoulder injury a little over a month ago. The reins have been handed to super-sophomore EJ Manuel, who has been turnover prone. Manuel has completed 63.4% of his passes for 628 yards and two TDs against six picks, but he is also a duel-threat, and has rushed for 126 yards and a TD in his limited action.
FSU will hand the ball off quite a bit in the Gator Bowl, especially to RB Jermaine Thomas, who was up and down all season. After rushing for 454 yards and four scores combined against NC State, Clemson, and Wake Forest, he has only toted the rock for 65 yards and one TD since then.
West Virginia has posted solid numbers across the board this season, and save for an embarrassing 41-30 defeat against OC Gus Malzahn’s offense at Auburn, the unit has only allowed more than 24 points in one game. The unit ranks 34th in the country, allowing just 330.0 yards per game, and could thrive against FSU if it can force Manuel to make careless mistakes with the football.
West Virginia Offense vs. Florida State Defense: Ever since RB Steve Slaton and QB Pat White had their dominant years at West Virginia two years ago, things just haven’t quite seemed right with the WVU offense. RB Noel Devine came to Morgantown full of hype and potential, and though he has carried the ball for 1,294 yards and 12 TDs this year, it just doesn’t feel like the Mountaineers’ offense is as explosive as it once was.
QB Jarrett Brown, who sat behind White as the heir apparent for two seasons, has had a decent year, completing 63.5% of his passes for 2,129 yards and 11 TDs against eight picks, but his rushing totals are down by normal WVU quarterback standards, as he has only rushed for 423 yards and five TDs in ’09.
The good news for the Mountaineers is that Florida State’s defense is absolutely pathetic, and is incredibly undisciplined. DC Mickie Andrews has been trying to get his ‘D’ to play assignment football all season, but one look at the tape from games against Florida and Georgia Tech, two teams that run option-based offenses, will show just how poorly equipped this unit is to stop WVU.
Very uncharacteristically, the Noles are allowing 444.3 yards per game this year, ranking just 110th amongst the 120 teams in the land. It’s hard to see how WVU will rack up anything less than the 203.2 yards per game that the Seminoles are allowing on the ground in the Gator Bowl.
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