Posts Tagged 'west virginia'

Heisman Dark Horse Part 2: Noel Devine

It’s only July, but major universities and college football programs are already launching Heisman campaigns to generate the much-needed media exposure for select candidates.  Anyone who follows college football knows about Washington’s Jake Locker, Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor and last year’s Heisman-winner, Alabama running back Mark Ingram.

WVU running back Noel Devine has his sights set on a Big East Title and a trip to New York in 2010 (google images)

If you just take a look at his numbers, it’s amazing that the explosive running back is not on everyone’s watch list, but surprisingly, many of the so-called experts do not have Devine listed as a threat to take home the coveted trophy. 

Devine burst on the scene as a true freshman, when he took carries away from All-American running back Steve Slaton.  After Slaton was injured in the Fiesta Bowl, which meant Devine would have to carry the load for the Mountaineers, and he delivered, rushing for 105 on just 12 carries with two touchdowns.

His numbers increased his sophomore season, as he rushed for 1,289, and despite being hampered by minor injuries for much of last season, the talented back still managed to rush for 1,465 yards and 13 TDs.  If this trend continues, and more importantly, if Devine can avoid injury this season, there is every reason to believe that he could break 1,800 yards this season.  That sounds like a high number, but it is more attainable than you may think.

Since his arrival in Morgantown, the electric running back from Fort Myers, FL has averaged 6.5 yards per carry.  If he can stay healthy, there is every reason in the world to believe that he will get more carries than last season.  If he gets just 44 more carries than last season, that would put him at 285, putting him over 1,800 yards, given his career yards/carry average.

College FootBlog takes a look at the two things must happen for Devine to get serious consideration from the media and ultimately, the voters. 

West Virginia must win the Big East:  Six out of the last seven Heisman Trophy winners played on conference champion teams.  This could be a tall order for Devine and the Mountaineers, and given the emergence of the Big East as a formidable BCS conference in the last couple of years, it is.  But despite the success of WVU, Cincinnati, Pitt and others from the conference, the Big East is still unfairly viewed as a little brother to the other conferences by most writers.

In order for the national media to take notice of a Heisman candidate from this conference, they will have to win, and they’ll have to hope that others in the conference like Pitt and Cincy win as well.  This would set the stage for a national TV audience for the “Backyard Brawl” rivalry game on Nov. 26, when WVU travels to Pitt to take on the Panthers.

Will it happen?  They should be in the hunt, but the Pitt game will likely determine who wins the Big East.  West Virginia hosts Cincinnati, South Florida and Syracuse before the Pitt game, and they travel to UConn and Louisville.  Unless something unforeseen happens, the Mountaineers will be favored in all of these games.  If they take down Pitt, the conference title will be theirs, and they will lock up a BCS game, and the media will notice.

Devine must avoid injury:  At 5’8″ and just 176 lbs., Devine is far from a bruising back.  The only thing preventing him from eclipsing 1,500 yards last season was the fact that he played much of the season banged up.  He still managed to put up some very impressive numbers last fall, but his relatively small frame showed signs of fatigue last year, particularly in the middle of the season.

Devine needs at least 300 touches (rushing, receiving and returning) if he is going to put up the kind of numbers that will trump the other candidates.  If he gets that many touches, that means he made it through the year without a significant injury, and with his explosiveness and elusiveness, that means bigtime production.

Will it happen?  It should.  Despite traveling to Death Valley to take on LSU in September, the non-conference schedule is not that tough for the Mountaineers.  And despite his small frame, Devine has proven to be an extremely durable back.  In addition, new quarterback Geno Smith is more of a passer than a runner, which means that unlike in past years, Devine will not be splitting carries with his QB.  His strength and durability will be tested, but he has carried 447 times in his two years as the featured running back at WVU.  Look for that durability to continue in 2010 because it will be his last season, and Devine will have his chance to ease the concerns of NFL scouts that his body can handle the punishment of a 280-plus carry season.

Rich Rodriguez Facing a 3rd and (very) Long

When it was first reported last fall that Michigan head football coach Rich Rodriguez was breaking NCAA rules which limit the number of hours student athletes can practice and take part in sports activities, many assumed he and the Michigan program might get a slap on the wrists, if any punishment at all. 

Rodriguez denied any wrong-doing in a press conference last year, but many have their doubts (google images)

But with the recent discovery of the same types of violations at West Virginia during Rodriguez’ tenure there, it appears that the NCAA is on to something bigger.  Once the NCAA sinks its teeth into you, they are bound to find something, and usually, it is not good for the coaches and university they investigate.

In August of last year, former Michigan players and at least one current anonymous player came forward with the information that sparked the media reports and subsequent investigation.  The players alleged that Rodriguez and his staff consistently exceeded the NCAA rule that limits weekly practice time to twenty hours, but possibly the most shocking, was one of the allegations from a former Michigan wideout, Toney Clemons, who claims that he had to put in multiple twelve-hour days on Sunday with all of the football-related activities.   That’s a sweatshop that would make Kathie Lee proud.

On February 22nd, 2010, the NCAA formally issued its notice of allegations, and that investigation is on-going.  However, the excess practice time does not appear to be the center of their investigation, but rather, the quality control and training staffs and their involvement with off-season workouts, which were prohibited by NCAA guidelines.  The NCAA also alleges that Michigan, specifically a grad assistant, misled them in their investigation, which effectively brought more torches to the witch hunt……which brings us to the NCAA’s findings at West Virginia.

Unfortunately for Rodriguez, where there is smoke, there is usually fire.  And while he and the Michigan program will likely face some kind of sanctions from the NCAA’s investigation, it is not likely to be overly harsh–keep in mind that the NCAA cannot hand Michigan a more stringent penalty because of something their head coach did before he even arrived in Ann Arbor.

The investigation into West Virginia, could, however, be the beginning of the end for Rodriguez and his stint as the Wolverines’ head coach.  On August 31st of last year, Rodriguez responded in a press conference to the initial allegations.  An emotional and teary-eyed Rodriguez told the press that day, “We know the rules, and we follow the rules.” 

Apparently, the NCAA doesn’t exactly believe him.  And they intend to prove it.

College Football Preseason Top 25 (#16-#25)

As the end of Spring Football draws near, some major college football programs have answered some questions, while others have more questions than they had in February.  In this three-part series, College FootBlog will release our Preseason 2010 Top 25 with some insight on each team and the season that will be here in five months.  In this first edition, we will break down #16-#25.

Oregon State RB Quizz Rodgers is one of the most electric players in college football (google images)

16.  Oregon State:  The Beavers surprised many outside of their conference last season, but to the Pac 10, their rise in ’09 was a continuance of what they have been doing for the last four years, the Beavers are 36-17 and have finished second in the Pac 10 in each of the last two years.  The Rodgers brothers (Quizz and James) return to lead the offense.  There is a battle between Ryan Katz and Peter Lalich to replace Sean Canfield at quarterback, but if the last four years are any indication, Oregon State is for real and they are here to stay.

17.  Miami:  Many doubted the Hurricane offense going into last season, but then sophomore quarterback Jacory Harris proceeded to light up defensive secondaries en route to a 3,000-yard passing season.  Harris and his receiving corps faltered against Wisconsin in their bowl game, but with only one wideout leaving for graduation (Leonard Hankerson), look for Miami to put up good numbers on offense again in 2010.  Couple that with a very athletic defense led by linebacker Sean Spence, and the ‘Canes will be tough this fall.

18.  LSU:  The Tigers were a decent offense away from ending Tim Tebow’s BCS Championship long before Alabama knocked the Gators off in the SEC Championship Game.  Les Miles had a solid defense last season, and senior linebacker Kelvin Sheppard returns to anchor this season’s unit.   Do-everything offensive game-breaker, Russell Shepard should make a name for himself in his sophomore season.

19.  Nebraska:  Bo Pelini brought respect back to the storied program that had been in a major drought since the days of Eric Crouch.  Pelini has brought back the “black shirt” defense as opposed to what had looked more like the “mesh shirt” defense in the earlier part of the last decade.  The loss of Ndamukong Suh is significant, but luckily for Husker fans, the rest of the Big 12 is not good at tackle football.

20.  Georgia:  After a disappointing 8-5 season, look for the Bulldogs to bounce back this fall.  The offense should take a step forward, with one of the top receivers in the country in AJ Green and running back Washaun Ealey.  The defense was a major reason the ‘Dawgs underachieved in 2009, so head coach Mark Richt has revamped his coaching staff on that side of the ball, and the buzz coming out of Athens so far this spring sounds like those changes are already having a favorable impact.

21.  Penn State:  Look for JoPa to make one last run in 2010, although we believe the Nittany Lions don’t quite have enough to dethrone Ohio State for a run at the Big Ten title.  The thing that Penn State has going for them is their conference.  While there are four teams that should be very good in 2010, the rest of the conference takes a significant nosedive, and PSU should benefit from that.

Senior quarterback Josh Nesbitt is the key to GT's triple option attack (google images)

22.  Georgia Tech:  After scoffing at Paul Johnson bringing the triple option to a major college offense a couple years ago, we have all learned one thing–he is a great football coach.  And we have learned to not count him out.  The loss of stud running back Jonathan Dwyer will hurt the Yellow Jackets, but if quarterback Josh Nesbitt can stay healthy, GT will make another run at an ACC Championship Game.

23.  North Carolina:  Butch Davis has the Tarheels playing great football…well, at least on defense.  UNC boasted the nation’s 6th ranked total defense, allowing opposing offenses just under 270 yards per game.  Unfortunately, for the ‘Heels, the offense was as bad as the defense was good.  UNC was ranked a pathetic 108th in total offense.   If the offense can improve at all (which isn’t exactly a tall order), look for Butch Davis’ squad to give teams fits in 2010.

24.  West Virginia:  The Mountaineers will have to overcome the loss of quarterback Jarrett Brown, but Geno Smith will look to show why he was such a highly-touted QB out of Florida.  Noel Devine has been one of the most explosive players in the country since his freshman season, and the fact that he returned for his senior means that the Mountaineers can always one play away from breaking one.

25.  Auburn:  The heavily criticized hiring of Gene Chizik worked out well, as he led the Tigers to an 8-5 record and a bowl victory over Northwestern in his inaugural season.  Look for even more improvement from the offense and a stout defense.  Look for freshman running back Michael Dyer and freshman DE Corey Lemonier to make immediate impact this fall.

College Football All-Suspension Team: Defense

This time of year is pretty dead for the average college football fan.  Let’s face it–spring football just doesn’t do much to tide the football fanatics over.  Thankfully, college football never completely leaves the national media, thanks to some really, really dumb decisions that key players at major programs make.  The vast majority of these actions seem to take place in the off-season and often lead to suspensions five months before the college season begins in early September. 

In case you missed it, College FootBlog came up with an All-Suspension Team for the offensive side of the ball in our last post (link).  This post, we will focus on the defensive players who have recently been suspended for various reasons, which, in turn, have cost the individual players the opportunity to win prestigious awards, and they have disrupted chemistry from their individual teams. 

So, let’s meet our group of degenerates on this side of the ball, shall we?

Florida coach Urban Meyer drew as much criticism for his half-game suspension as Brandon Spikes for his eye gouging incident last season (google images)

Defensive End:  Carlos Dunlap (Florida):  Dunlap is one of the top pass rushers going into next month’s draft.  At 6’6″ and 277 lbs, he was unstoppable off the edge, and he was a standout on special teams because of his ability to block kicks.  In 2009, Dunlap was a Consensus All-SEC selection, but he was suspended for the SEC Championship Game because of his charges of drunken driving on December 1st, 2009.  The experts still have Dunlap going in the first round of the NFL Draft, but his absence from the SEC Championship may have played a part in the loss to eventual National Champion Alabama.

Defensive Tackle:  DeMarcus Granger (Oklahoma):  During the week of OU’s Fiesta Bowl against West Virginia in 2008, Granger allegedly stole a jacket from an Arizona shopping mall.  This begs two questions:  1)  Why did he need a coat in Arizona and 2)  why didn’t he just have a car dealer in Norman just lend him one?  Regardless, the incident likely forced him to stay in college football the next year instead of declaring for the NFL Draft.  He has battled injuries and has been overshadowed by fellow teammate Gerald McCoy ever since and is now projected to go in the fourth round by most experts, costing him millions of dollars.

Linebacker:  Brandon Spikes (Florida):  Spikes surprised many when he opted to return for his senior season in Gainesville.  His overall performance did not suffer (in 2009, Spikes was again selected a First-Team All-American), but his character came into question when a television camera clearly showed that Spikes was gauging the eyes of Georgia running back Washaun Ealey.  His head coaches character would come into question shortly thereafter, as Urban Meyer decided that a half-game suspension would be enough of a slap on the wrists to suffice.  After public scrutiny, it was Spikes who made the decision to sit for an entire game.  Despite the altercation, Spikes is projected as the top inside linebacker in next month’s draft.

Cornerback:  Paul Oliver (Georgia):  After his first two seasons in Athens, Oliver exploded onto the scene as a junior, when he was considered one of the top corners in the SEC.  In that season, Oliver held former Georgia Tech and current Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson to two catches for 13 yards.  Unfortunately, Oliver’s senior season never happened because he failed to meet academic eligibility requirements.  He was later drafted in the NFL’s supplemental draft in July of 2007.  He is now a back up safety for the San Diego Chargers, but another year in the SEC could have produced a lot more money in the following year’s draft.

Safety:  Brandon Meriweather (Miami):  Despite firing three shots from his gun at an assailant who had already shot his teammate Willie Cooper in the butt, Meriweather was not suspended because his firearm was legal.  The suspension was handed down by the ACC because of his involvement in the 2006 brawl against Florida International University, where Meriweather was seen repeatedly stomping several FIU players who were on the ground.  Despite the incident, Meriweather was selected as the 24th overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, but the shooting incident and brawl are thought to have cost him a much higher selection.

Tell us what you think.  It was pretty hard to limit the list to just these players, but we probably missed some obvious ones.  College FootBlog wants your feedback!

2009 BCS Conference Power Rankings Part 3

In our first two pieces, College FootBlog ranked the third through the sixth ranked BCS conferences from the 2009 season (see link).  In this three-part breakdown, we analyze the results from each conference from the 2009 college football season, and we also give an outlook for the upcoming 2010 season.

Without further adieu, here are our top two BCS conferences from our Power Rankings.

2.  Big East

2009 Recap:  There was a time when analysts argued if the Big East should even have the right to an automatic BCS bid for its champion.  That is no longer the case.  Most people left the Big East for dead when Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College left for what was believed to be the greener pastures of the ACC.  While the ACC has fallen from respectability, the Big East has consistently raised the bar over the last three years.

Cincinnati's Mardy Gilyard was one of the most explosive players in all of college football in '09 (google images)

Dave Wannstedt has Pitt back on the national scene and they gave Cincinnati all they could handle in a stunning 45-44 loss that was one of the best (if not the best) college football games all season.  Overall, the Panthers finished with ten wins on the year, West Virginia and Rutgers racked up nine wins and USF and UConn each pulled in eight victories on the year. 

2010 Outlook:  Coaching changes could have a significant effect on the Big East next season.  The Departure of Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly for Notre Dame and the firing of South Florida coach Jim Leavitt will put a lot of pressure on new head coaches Butch Jones and Skip Holtz.

The good news is that each of those two programs will have a proven quarterback.  Cincy did not lose a beat when Tony Pike was lost temporarily due to injury because of the great play of Zach Collaros.  And USF will have leader Matt Grothe back next fall, but they now have a proven back up in BJ Daniels.

The issue for the Bulls is going to be replacing future NFL defensive ends George Selvie and Jason Pierre-Paul.  Pitt will have to replace quarterback Bill Stull, but running back Dion Lewis will take a lot of pressure off the new starter at QB.

Overall, it will be difficult to keep the #2 Power Ranking in 2010, but the coaching and talent will continue to gain well-deserved respect from college football.

1.  SEC

2009 Recap:  As much as some fans would like to see a changing of the guard, the SEC simply will not allow that to happen.  All the SEC did this season is send ten of their twelve teams to bowl games, and they won six, which included the Sugar Bowl and the BCS National Championship.

When the dust settled, the SEC combined for a whopping 97-59 record in ’09, making it by far the deepest conference in the country.  Led by Alabama’s national championship team and the Florida Gators, whose only loss came at the hands of the Crimson Tide, the SEC once again imposed its will on the rest of college football.

Mark Ingram's punishing running-style led the Tide to the BCS Title (google images)

2010 Outlook:  Look for much of the same with the SEC dominating college football.  Flordia will have a bit of a rebuilding year after the loss of Tim Tebow and likely NFL first rounders, LB Brandon Spikes, TE Aaron Hernandez and CB Joe Haden.

The scary part is that the other top teams could be and should be even better this fall.  That includes ‘Bama, who returns the running back tandem of Ingram and Richardson, but they also return WR Julio Jones and QB Greg McElroy.

Head coach Gene Chizik will look to build on the momentum he created at Auburn, and with Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett and Ole Miss QB Jevan Snead, the SEC could possibly have a pair of first round quarterbacks in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Just to recap, College FootBlog’s 2009 BCS Conference Power Rankings are as follows:

  1. SEC
  2. Big East
  3. Big Ten
  4. Big 12
  5. ACC
  6. Pac 10

Please feel free to post your own power rankings and give your feedback.  Also, look for College FootBlog’s analysis of the recruiting season in a couple of weeks.

Time for the NCAA to Change with the Times

With all the strong emotions created from college coaches coming and going from football programs like most of us change shoes, one thing has been lost–the student-athletes these changes affect.  While there are many arguements for and against a college coaches right and opportunity to walk from a program despite the agreed upon contracts, it is not the administrations, athletic departments and alumni that are affected the most, but instead, the young men who made their commitment to the particular school.

Despite only monetary punishments (and in the case of Rich Rodriguez and West Virginia, a possible law suit), there are no real sanctions in place for coaches or universities not holding up their contracts.  The players, on the other hand, are still required to sit out a year if they wish to transfer.  This is due to an NCAA rule that is strictly enforced.

Now, more than ever, college sports, particularly college football, have quickly become a huge income producer for colleges and universities.  The NCAA gets their cut of the revenues, too.  In 2008, the NCAA reports revenues showed over $590 million from television and marketing rights alone. 

This big business has created an environment where many top coaches will go to the highest bidder, and while the lack of loyalty is ridiculed, it is accepted as just a sign of the times.

Don’t tell that to Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett.  Mallett originally signed his letter of intent to play for Lloyd Carr and the Michigan Wolverines out of high school.  When Carr was forced out of Ann Arbor, Mallett would find out that his new coach would be West Virginia’s Rich Rodriguez, who ran a completely different offense that the traditional pro style offense that Michigan ran when Mallett decided to enroll there.

Mallett transferred to Arkanasas, and despite an appeal to the NCAA, he was forced to sit out the entire 2008 season for not honoring his commitment.  In the end, the NCAA showed no compassion for an 18-year old kid who was caught in a bait and switch by the Michigan athletic department, and he was punished accordingly.

It now appears that Kiffin will not be singing "Rocky Top" anywhere next season (google images)

More recently (just three weeks before college football’s National Signing Day), it was announced that Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin has decided to jump ship for USC after just one year in Knoxville.  Nevermind the 18 recruits who have committed to UT.  Two of those recruits have already signed the letter of intent, which binds them to that commitment.

And nevermind the fact that a huge factor in the commitments of these recruits was because of the coaching staff, that will subsequently not be there any longer.

A similar situation has been brewing in Gainesville, Florida, where head coach Urban Meyer announced that he was resigning, due to health issues.  A day later, after a huge fallout of the 2010 recruiting class for the Gators, which included a brief decommitment from safety Matt Elam, the bell cow of the Florida class, Meyer quickly changed his mind, at least to the media and the recruits. 

He said after going to one practice, he realized that he would instead take a leave of absence, and it has been reported that he has told several prized recruits that he plans to resume the head coaching role in August.

If Meyer does what many expect, he will not be the head coach at Florida next season.  But in the high-stakes game of college recruiting, the Florida Gators could not afford to take a big hit, just weeks before signing day, so Meyer’s resignation was downplayed to an indefinite leave.

Whether health, family or any other issues do not allow Meyer to roam the sidelines in time for the fall, 20-25 young men will be playing for a coach that they did not commit to, and they will be punished, should any of them choose to transfer. 

Unless the NCAA changes or at least, modifies their current rules on transfer rights of student-athletes, coaches and universities will continue to have every right to fire coaches, leave for greener pastures and in some cases, even lie or mislead 17-18 year old kids

Why should the NCAA hold 17-22 year olds to a higher standard than the coaches and administrations that are designed to support them?  In the meantime, the recruits who have committed to schools in transition, like Florida and Tennessee, now have three weeks to make a decision that will have a direct effect on the next 4-5 years of their lives. 

Better get it right, kids….the NCAA is watching.

Gator Bowl Prediction: West Virginia vs. Florida State

As the new year begins, an era in college football will conclude.  On January 1st, the Florida State Seminoles will take on the West Virginia Mountaineers in the Gator Bowl in Bobby Bowden’s final football game at FSU.  In this match up, West Virginia will look to gain even more respect for the Big East, but the ‘Noles will be playing for something bigger than themselves, as they will look to send their legendary coach off with a victory in his final game. 

College FootBlog will break down this New Year’s Day match up, analyze the strengths and key concerns of each team, and ultimately, make a prediction of this game. 

Noel Devine is one of the most electric RB's in all of college football (google images)


West Virginia 

Strengths:  The Mounaineers have a solid running game, led by junior running back, Noel Devine.  Despite being hampered by nagging injuries in the middle of the season, Devine has still managed to rack up 1,297 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. 
Quarterback, Jarrett Brown compliments Devine in the running game as well and has rushed for 423 yards himself.  They will look to have a big day against FSU’s struggling defense.
Key Concerns:  Despite having a stout defense against the run, WV’s pass defense has been exposed somewhat this season, ranking 52nd nationally in the FBS. 
The secondary will have to step up in this game because Florida State spreads the ball around to multiple receivers and backs.  Their ability to cover the intermediate routes and screens will have a direct impact on who wins this game.
Strengths:  FSU’s offense has taken another huge step forward this season, averaging just under 422 yards from scrimmage per game.  One key component of that has been the leadership and solid play from quarterback Christian Ponder.  Unfortunately, for the ‘Noles, Ponder’s season was cut short with a separated shoulder.

Freshman QB EJ Manuel will need a solid day if the 'Noles want a win (google images)

Freshman QB EJ Manuel has assumed that role, and has filled in fairly well in his three starts.  The wideouts at FSU are very versatile and any of them can make the big play, but the most consistent of the group has been sophomore, Bert Reed, who has racked up 710 receiving yards this season.
Key Concerns:  FSU’s defense has been brutal this season, ranking 110th nationally.  Legendary defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews will need to get his unit to play inspired football, or West Virginia could make it a long day for the ‘Noles.
FSU has had particular trouble with the spread this season, and Devine and company will provide one of the toughest challenges they have had all year.
Florida State Offense vs. West Virginia Defense
Even though Manuel is a young quarterback, he has a lot of weapons around him, and more importantly, in front of him.  FSU’s offensive line is the best OL in the ACC, and the weeks of preparation have given time for All-American guard Rodney Hudson to get back to full strength.
West Virginia has a unique defensive scheme with their 3-5-3, but FSU’s OL coach, Rick Trickett, who coached there before coming to Tallahassee, will have his line ready to play against them.  Also, look for EJ Manuel to hit a lot of screens and short passes early to soften the defense and get him into a rhythm.  EDGE:  FSU
West Virginia Offense vs. Florida State Defense
West Virginia’s spread attack and the speed of Noel Devine will be tough to overcome.  FSU has been vulnerable to the big play all season, and this game should be no different.  The ‘Noles have a particularly tough time with misdirection, and the Mountaineers will likely use this to their advantage.
The Mountaineers are not known for their ability to throw the ball, but pretty much every opponent FSU has faced, regardless of talent at QB, has scorched the ‘Noles’ struggling secondary.  With that in mind, WV will likely take a few shots down the field.  EDGE:  WV
Special Teams
We have mentioned how explosive Noel Devine is as a running back, but he is equally as dangerous as a kick returner.  The Seminoles, however, have had a lot of success this season against some of the best returners in the country, including Clemson’s CJ Spiller.  That is because of the leg of freshman kicker Dustin Hopkins, who has boomed a whopping 23 kickoffs for touchbacks, which is fifth best in the country.
Couple that with the nation’s top punt returner in freshman Greg Reid, and Florida State’s special teams have truly been special this season.  EDGE:  FSU
As bad as FSU’s defense has been all season, look for them to play inspired football.  It is, afterall, the final game for head coach Bobby Bowden and longtime defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews.  Also, take into account FSU’s success at the Gator Bowl (5-0-1 all-time), and the ‘Noles will be tough to beat.
Expect a high-scoring game, but ultimately, we think FSU’s offense will have a solid game with all the preparation time, and the defense will do just enough to send Bowden off with yet another bowl win.  Score Prediction:  FSU wins 33-27

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