College Football Picks: Oklahoma at Florida State Predictions and Betting Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 9/13/2011
Oklahoma Sooners at Florida State Seminoles
Saturday, Sept. 17, 8:00 p.m. ET
This past week Oklahoma became the first ever team to be ranked No. 1 in the country 100 different weeks. That’s an impossibly impressive streak, but one that the Seminoles -- no strangers to the top spot themselves -- would very much like to bring to an end. For the first time in far too long Florida State is actually in a position to be nationally relevant at the highest levels, and everyone associated with the program is desperate to get there. They’ll also be hungry to wash the taste of the humiliating 47-17 loss to Oklahoma in the second game of the season last year from their mouths.
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This is, on paper at least, the best game of the college football season. People might argue that that distinction belongs to LSU and Oregon or even Boise State and Georgia, but they would be wrong. These are two of the most complete programs in the country right now, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Both these teams have their sights firmly set on the National Championship, but there is a very good chance that that dream will die for the loser as the final time clicks off the clock. That’s why college football is such a cruel, brilliant sport.
Oklahoma at Florida State Betting Storylines
The last time the Seminoles hosted a No. 1 team was in 1996 when Florida came to town. Florida State pulled off the upset that day. If the Sooners want to avoid the same fate then they’ll have to be more prepared for this than they have been for recent big road games. They lost at Missouri and Texas A&M last year, at Miami and Nebraska the year before, and at Texas Tech in 2007.
Miami is the game that stands out most. Like this one, Miami was a well-regarded team that had been humiliated in Norman the year before. Oklahoma came into the game after a week off like they do here. It was also a nationally televised night game with endless hype, and Oklahoma was the road favorite in both cases. Sooners faithful will be looking for this game to turn out better than that one.
Neither team has been tested much this year, but both have done all they have been asked to do. There are reasons to believe that both teams can come out on top -- that’s what makes this matchup so compelling. Besides the home field advantage the Seminoles have great speed, a freakish kicker who hit a 55-yard field goal last year that could be very useful in a close game -- especially since the Sooners have real kicking issues -- and a defense that is rapidly improving.
Oklahoma has the far more tested and proven quarterback, they are much more used to the pressure of big games, and their coach has spent far more time in the glare of the spotlight. They have also had the extra week to get ready for this game.
An intriguing plotline here is the Stoops family angle. Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops is the younger brother of Oklahoma Head Coach Bob. The two have never worked together, but you can be sure that they have discussed strategy more than once. There will be fewer secrets between these teams than there would be between most teams in this situation.
Oklahoma at Florida State Betting Odds and Trends
The line opened with Florida State as three-point home underdogs, according to current college football lines, with 3.5 available in some places. Almost three-quarters of bets have been place on Oklahoma, so the betting public has a clear early preference. The total has not yet been posted as I write this.
Oklahoma covered their only game. Florida State is just 1-1 ATS, though the game they didn’t cover was against a ludicrous 55.5-point spread, and they still won the game by 52. That’s hardly a reason to panic.
The ‘under’ is 6-2 in Florida State’s last eight home games, and 7-1 in Oklahoma’s last eight on grass.
College Football Picks: Oklahoma at Florida State Predictions
I have a really hard time believing in the Seminoles. E.J. Manuel has not been tested in a game like this or against a defense like this one. His team is very young and inexperienced, and this type of intense game is not something the coach, team, or program has been through. They have speed, but they are still raw. The defense was a problem last year -- they were often out of place and weren’t comfortable with their scheme. They look like they are better this year, but they haven’t been tested at all, and until I see them in battle conditions I won’t trust them.
Landry Jones is an inexperienced and talented quarterback, and he will clearly be the best offensive player on the field. In a game that should be close that is a big key. I am nervous about the difference in the kicking games and the disadvantage that is for Oklahoma, but I don’t think that that is enough to change my mind.
When you have two top-level teams playing with the highest possible stakes on the line there isn’t typically much to separate the two squads, and that’s certainly the case here. It comes down to finding the side that feels better bouncing around your mind. For me that’s the Sooners. They are going to win this one by a touchdown.
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