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Chik-Fil-A Bowl

Florida State vs. South Carolina

Betting Line: South Carolina -3 o/u 55

12/31/10

 

Remember the good old days of Florida football when Florida State and Florida competed heavily each and every year? Former Gators HC Steve Spurrier fed fuel to the fire of the rivalry between the two teams with his "Free Shoes U" comment. Now as the HC of the 9-4 South Carolina Gamecocks, Spurrier will get his first shot at FSU since a 2001 win while still the top man at Florida. The fiery coach is licking his chops at a chance to not only win a bowl game, but to set the FSU fans ablaze yet again.

It won't be as easy as it was in his Gator days though. The Seminoles have a fearless new leader in Jimbo Fisher. They have put together a very respectable 9-4 season and are coming into this game after a loss to a very good Virginia Tech team in the ACC Championship Game. Fisher has done an excellent job in his first year on the job and the Seminoles have exceeded expectations. Let's see how these teams stack up and who will be the most likely winner of the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

The line for this game which will be played in the Georgia Dome opened with South Carolina as a 3 point favorite and has remained steady since then. The Gamecocks are 7-5 ATS this year compared to 6-6 for Florida State. The Gamecocks are slightly better on offense with 32.0 PPG compared to 31.8 for Florida State. The Seminoles have a better defense statistically speaking at 19.8 PPG compared to 22.9 PPG. We have to consider that South Carolina's number is inflated due to playing Auburn twice. They lost to them by a score of 56-17 in the SEC Championship in their last game.

South Carolina's offense is led by QB Stephen Garcia. The junior has come a long way in his time under Steve Spurrier's tutelage. He has passed for 2,816 yards and 20 TDs this year. One of his best games came when he completed 17 of 20 passes for 201 yards and 3 TDs against a stout Alabama defense. His top target is WR Alshon Jeffery. The future NFL star has 79 for 1,387 yards and 9 TDs this year. He had 7 catches for 127 yards and 2 TDs against the Crimson Tide with a long catch of 45 yards. His longest catch of the year was 72 yards against Vanderbilt.

Freshman RB Marcus Lattimore will be the key to the offense in this game. He has 1,198 yards and 17 TDs this year. His best game was a 212 yards 3 TD performance against the Florida Gators. When this offense is on its game it can score on just about any defense. 

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The Seminoles sorely missed QB Christian Ponder in the ACC Championship Game, but he will be back for this event. The senior is a great pocket passer and has 2,038 yards and 20 TDs this year. He threw for 3 TDs against both Florida and North Carolina. According to ESPN.com he will not practice until the 26th which could leave him a bit rusty. The senior shouldn't take long to find his rhythm though. He will look to WRs Willie Haulstead and Bert Reed. The latter has 56 catches for 589 yard and 2 TDs this year. Haulsteed has reeled in 36 catches for 573 yards and 6 TDs. RBs Chris Thompson and Ty Jones share the carries. They have combined for 1,219 yards and 10 TDs this year.

Defense and determination will define this game. Both teams feel like they should be in BCS Bowls so it's important that they don't "look past" this game. The Seminoles held Maryland to 16 points, Florida to 7, Clemson to 13 and shut out Wake Forest. The Gamecocks held Clemson to 7 points, Florida to 14 and Alabama to 21.

This play comes down to a combination of our numbers and our general take on both of these teams. Both are good football teams and each had their ups and downs this year. South Carolina's big up came by defeating Alabama. Their big "down" came in the SEC title game when they were spanked by Auburn. The sums up our feelings on Spurrier and the Gamecocks. Inconsistent. Seems you never know what you are going to get.

Florida State on the other hand, has been consistent all year long with the exception of one slip up against Oklahoma. They have beaten some good football teams and have been in every one of their losses including the ACC title game without their starting QB. That, is very significant. When you play Florida State, you're going to be in a game right down to the wire. We always mention that that's right where we always want to be when we take an underdog......in the game with a chance to win it when the ball snaps to start the 4th quarter. That should be the case here.

Our numbers come up dead even here. Actually, we'd favor Florida State by 1 or 2, so we'll go ahead and take FSU +3 here in a game they can win.

Predicted Score Florida State 23 South Carolina 21

3* Key Release Florida State +3

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