Florida State Seminoles are 8-point underdogs on NCAA football odds for the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl against Oregon. The total is 71.5 points. Could they become the second team this decade to repeat as national champion?
29 & Counting
Florida State (13-0) entered Saturday's ACC Championship Game against Georgia Tech as the No. 4 team in the College Football Playoff rankings, which as things turned out would have meant a trip to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans against No. 1 Alabama. So in a way, the fact that FSU moved up to No. 3 in the rankings following its 37-35 win over the Yellow Jackets was a bit of a punishment because now instead of playing not that far from campus, the Noles have to travel to California and play in a stadium that Oregon is very familiar with. Then again, so is FSU. It beat Auburn at the Rose Bowl in last year's BCS title game.
The Georgia Tech victory was FSU's 29th straight overall, which is easily the longest winning streak in the country, and fourth in a row by five points or fewer. Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston threw for 309 yards and three touchdowns against Georgia Tech and finally was turnover-free. He had thrown at least one first-half interception in every game since Week 7 and had 18 turnovers on the year, third-most among Power 5 conference players. No quarterback has won a national title in the FBS era with more than 15 picks. Winston has 17. The most by a national title-winning QB in the FBS era, which is since 1978, is 15 by Oklahoma's Josh Heupel in 2000. It seems Winston is at his best in big games. The Georgia Tech matchup was the third championship game in his career (two ACC title games, national championship). Winston has posted a QB rating of 164.2 in those three. He has completed 60 of 97 passes for 876 yards with nine TDs and two INTs. He has thrown for three TDs in each championship game appearance. Winston now has 13 300-yard passing games in 26 starts. That is one behind Chris Weinke for the most in FSU history. A loss to Oregon figures to end Winston's FSU career as everyone expects Winston to turn pro with all the off-field troubles following him in Tallahassee.
Rashad Greene had seven catches for 123 yards and two scores against the Jackets, and freshman Dalvin Cook had 220 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown in his first career start. He's a potential future Heisman winner. Winston will relinquish that trophy this Saturday to his counterpart in the Rose Bowl, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. Greene now owns the FSU mark for receptions in a single season (93) and set a new conference record for career receiving yards (3,771). Greene is two TDs away from tying Peter Warrick for the all-time record at FSU.
The Georgia Tech win dropped FSU to 3-10 against the spread at sportsbooks this season (5-8 'over/under' on College football odds) compared to 11-3 ATS last year when the Seminoles crushed everyone except Auburn in the final BCS National Championship Game. The Noles' points per game differential this season of plus-11.8 is the worst of any unbeaten team in the past decade. They have come from behind to win nine times. Florida State last lost Nov. 24, 2012, to Florida.
If there's one clear advantage FSU has in this game it's kicker Roberto Aguayo, one of the best in the nation. He is 25 of 27 on field-goal attempts and has never missed an extra point. Florida State has never faced Oregon, and the schools didn't have a common opponent this season. FSU is 4-0 against ranked teams but trailed in every game at one point. The Seminoles are +750 long shots at sportsbooks to win the national championship.
Free College Football Pick: FSU knows how to play in close games, while Oregon really doesn't. Ducks win but take the points at BookMaker at 8.5. Go 'over' the total. This should be a very entertaining shootout.