Sportsbooks aren't high on FSU repeating as the national champion. The Seminoles, despite a 29-game winning streak, are +700 long shots to win the first College Football Playoff. Here are 5 reasons why FSU will lose to Oregon in the Rose Bowl.
Stopping Running Game
Florida State has five-star recruits all over its defense and it has been pretty solid this year in ranking 30th nationally in points per game at 23.0. However, that unit has not been good against the run and that's something that Oregon excels at. Florida State's past four wins have all been by five points or fewer. Here are the rushing yardage totals the Noles allowed in those games: 176 against Miami, 240 against Boston College, 113 against Florida, and 331 against Georgia Tech. OK, you can sort of understand the Yellow Jackets putting up a huge rushing total in the ACC title game because that's all Georgia Tech does. But Florida is one of the worst offensive teams in college football. Boston College isn't very good on that side of the ball, either. Oregon, meanwhile, is the No. 20 rushing team in the land in averaging 237.3 yards per game and has a QB in Marcus Mariota who can beat FSU with his feet as well as his arm. No wonder most College Football odds shops have opened the Ducks as 9-point favorites.
Facing Hottest Team in NCAA Football
With all due respect to the fact that Florida State hasn't lost a game since late in the 2012 season, no team is playing better in the nation right now than Oregon. Since the Ducks' suffered their only loss of the season, 31-24 at home to Arizona, they haven't been challenged at all. They beat a very good UCLA team by 12 as well as ranked Utah by 24 and Top-10 Arizona by 38 in the Pac-12 Championship Game. The Oregon offensive line is healthy now and that's why the Ducks haven't scored less than 42 points since that first Arizona game. Florida State hasn't faced an explosive offense anything like Oregon's. Sportsbooks like BookMaker have set the total for the game at a high 71.5 points.
Jameis Winston Turnovers
Florida State's Winston, the 2013 Heisman winner, is obviously capable of brilliance and he had maybe the greatest freshman season ever last year in NCAA history. However, this season he has been very uneven. Winston had 40 touchdowns to just 10 picks last year but 24 TDs to 17 interceptions this season, which are the fourth-most interceptions in the country. In the 24-19 win over a bad Florida team, Winston was picked off four times. It was the first time all season an FBS team won a game in which its QB threw four picks. Also, no quarterback has won a share of the national championship in the FBS era with more than 15 interceptions that season. Florida State has four wins this season despite turning it over at least three times, which is the most in the FBS.
Jameis Winston Suspension?
It's very unlikely that this happens, but don't forget that Winston's student conduct code hearing over his reported sexual assault of a former FSU student two years was recently concluded. Ex-Florida Supreme Court justice Major Harding heard testimony from witnesses presented by the university, Winston and the woman, and Harding now must decide if Winston is responsible of any of four violations of the code of conduct. If Winston is found responsible, he faces sanctions ranging from a reprimand to expulsion. It should be noted that Harding has no ties to the school. But can you imagine if Winston is suspended for the game and what that would do to the spread on NCAA football odds? A decision is expected perhaps within a week but definitely well before the Jan. 1 game. The accuser's attorney has said: "We want him to be found responsible and we want him expelled from the school."
Heisman Winner's Recent History in Bowls
It used to be that Heisman winners lost their bowl games. Florida State knows all about that as the Seminoles lost the national championship game in the 2000 season when they could manage only two points behind Heisman winner Chris Weinke in the Orange Bowl against Oklahoma. From that year through 2008, the Heisman winner's team won just two bowl games and one of those has been vacated (USC's with Matt Leinart). However, Heisman winners have won five straight bowl games and three straight national title games. Of course Winston did so last season. Oregon's Mariota is going to win the award this Saturday in New York.