College Football Pick
Talk about a big Game in the ACC and it doesn’t even include Clemson, who has underwhelmed in its first two. Meanwhile, Florida State and Louisville are both off to strong starts, picking up big wins in each contest. But even with the Cardinals at home, the Seminoles opened as a -3 point favorite at 5 Dimes Sportsbook. The Game is now FSU -2 mostly due to the announcement Monday that Florida State safety (and NFL prospect) Derwin James would undergo knee surgery.
A lot of this Game has to do with the Florida State brand because not many would want to bet against Louisville after watching its first two Games. Behind quarterback LAmar Jackson, the Cardinals are scoring for fun. Through two Games, Jackson has 697 yards and 7 touchdowns in the air to go with 318 yards and 6 TDs on the ground. A win here would surely catapult Jackson into Heisman talks, or even to the top of the list.
But beating up on Charlotte and Syracuse is a bit different compared with Florida State. The Seminoles have a loaded defense, although that didn’t show up early on in the opener against Ole Miss, allowing 28 points in the first half. What that means is that they aren’t invincible, but what they do have is experience against Jackson.
In last year’s matchup, a 41-21 win for FSU, Jackson struggled on the ground, only hitting 32 yards on 19 carries (sacks included). While he threw for 307 yards and 3 TDs, it wasn’t nearly enough as Louisville lost by 20. Of course, this year and last year aren’t the same thing. It looks like Jackson gained another level in the offseason and should make things much harder for the ‘Noles to keep him in check. It’ll also be important for Louisville to get some kind of ground Game going via Brandon Radcliff in order to help Jackson.
But maybe the bigger question for the Cardinals will be what the defense can do. They haven’t been fully tested this year and a meeting with freshman sensation Deondre Francois will be just that, a test. Francois is drawing rave reviews in the early going after leading a comeback against Ole Miss and many are comparing him to Jameis Winston.
Whatever that means, Florida State’s offense still dominated this Game last year led by Everett Golson. While he tossed for 372 yards and three TDs in the air, Dalvin Cook ran for another 163 yards and 2 TDs on the ground. Louisville held them to just six points in the first half, but allowed too many big plays in the second to keep the ‘Noles around. That will be their goal this year, limiting the big plays that FSU makes.
But with how these teams have looked, one has to think it’s going to be a much closer contest this time around, especially being played in Louisville.
The Cards lost two home Games last year, both early on and by three points against elite teams — Houston and Clemson. With an improved offense, Louisville is looking to buck that trend against an early season trendy pick to make the College Football Playoff.
All eyes will be on Jackson and Francois in this Game, but the winner will likely come down to which defense shows up. At this point, it’s hard going against the Seminoles, but it’s important to remember that this will be Francois’s first Game on the road.
Our Pick – Louisville had the kind of season last year where they faltered, but barely, each time they stepped up in class. They started the year 0-3 losing to Auburn, Houston and Clemson by 7, 3 and 3.
They are loaded with returning starters this year and you could say, it’s now or never. They knocked on the door a year ago. Anything less than kicking it in this year, would be unacceptable. Louisville +2