College Football Picks: Duke vs. Florida State

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, December 6, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

With quarterback Jameis Winston cleared of any criminal charges, Florida State can now go pursue its National Championship, although it could call off the dogs vs. Duke.

With the whole Jameis Winston controversy now over and done with, it could be business as usual Saturday night when the Florida State Seminoles (12-0, 5-0 away) take on the Duke Blue Devils (10-2, 5-0 away) in the ACC Championship Game from Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC at 8:00 ET in a game televised nationally on ABC.

The posted first half total at Bet365 is 33½ for this contest with the current odds on the ‘over’ set at -110.

Winston has been cleared of all criminal charges in a sexual assault and will be under center for the Seminoles for this game and presumably for the BCS National Championship Game. Thus, Florida State is a lofty 29½-point favorite for this game with the total set at 62½, and even the first half line is a hefty -17. We do see value in the first half ‘over’ however, as a Florida State offense averaging 53.7 points will look to get off to a fast start.

Duke meanwhile is coming off of its best football season in program history with a 10-2 record and David Cutcliffe already earning some national Coach of the Year awards. The Blue Devils enter this contest on an eight-game winning streak since losing their only two games of the year, oddly both at home and in consecutive weeks to Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh.

Florida State of course has loftier aspirations beyond this game as the Seminoles are now the top ranked team in the country after dismantling the rival Florida Gators 37-7 last week while the former number one team Alabama lost at Auburn. To say that the Noles are a complete team could be an understatement as they are ranked seventh in the country in total offense and second in scoring offense, as well as fourth in total defense and first in scoring defense.

The smallest margin of victory by Florida State in any game this year was by 14 points at Boston College in a 48-34 win with that being the only contest all season where the Noles allowed more than 17 points, and then their second smallest margin of victory was by 27 points in a 41-14 win over the Miami Hurricanes.

With all of that being said, we expect Florida State to race out to a big first-half lead here and then call off the dogs and bring in some reserves in the second half so as not to risk key injuries with the National Championship Game being the next stop. That makes both the Florida State spread and the high total a bit dicey for the full game, but we do think that the Seminoles will score enough in the first half for these teams to combine for close to 40 points before halftime.

That is because despite its amazing success this season, Duke does not grade out well defensively at 58th in total defense, 72nd in rushing defense and 56th in passing defense. And keep in mind that those low rankings were amassed without facing any offense as potent as what Florida State possesses.

What the Blue Devils do have however is an NFL caliber wide receiver in Jamison Crowder, who leads the ACC with his 88 receptions, Crowder has totaled 1131 receiving yards on 12.9 yards per receptions with seven touchdowns, and he also added a rushing touchdown on an end-around. One big play by Crowder for a touchdown may be all that Duke needs to push this first-half total ‘over’ given the expected inability of the Duke defense to slow down Florida State.

Then again, there is always the possibility that the Seminoles could score five touchdowns in the first half by themselves and thus need no help from Duke to push the total ‘over’. In any event, the first half ‘over’ appears to offer the best value in the ACC Championship Game Saturday.

[gameodds]6/251727/?r-1=43-238-92-349-192/us[/gameodds]

College Football Pick: Duke, Florida State ‘over’ 33½ (First Half)