The Florida State Seminoles did what they had to do last week to hold on to the No. 2 spot in the BCS standings; they destroyed Wake Forest 59-3, covering a huge spread in the process.
This week FSU is at home and favored by even more, with the Syracuse Orange coming to Tallahassee for a Saturday afternoon ACC encounter (3:30 pm ET, ESPN2).
The 'Noles have to win every remaining game, and convincingly, to stay on pace for that BCS championship game berth. But will they cover five touchdowns and a field goal this weekend?
'Cuse-'Noles Betting Odds
'Cuse-'Noles Game Set-Up
Florida State began this season ranked No. 11 and No. 12 in the two major polls. However by winning their first nine games, many in blow-out fashion, the Seminoles have climbed to No. 2 in both major polls and in the BCS standings.
FSU's two toughest opponents have probably been Clemson and Miami; the 'Noles beat the Tigers 51-14 at Death Valley, and beat the 'Canes 41-14.
On the underdog side of this match-up Syracuse, in its first season in the ACC, is 5-4 and needs one more win to become bowl-eligible.
The Orange's best victory so far probably came last week, when they won at Maryland 20-3 as six-point underdogs.
In fact, over its last two games the Syracuse defense has allowed a total of three points.
However, the 'Cuse also gave up 48 points to Northwestern, 49 to Clemson, and 56 to Georgia Tech.
These two teams have played four common opponents this season; Maryland, Clemson, North Carolina State, and Wake Forest.
Florida State went 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS against those four teams, winning those games by an average score of 56-7.
Syracuse went 3-1 SU and also 3-1 ATS against those four teams, outscoring them by an average of 18-16.
'Cuse-'Noles Betting Trends
Syracuse is 6-3 ATS this season, but 0-2 ATS as double-digit dogs.
Florida State is 7-2 ATS this year, which is impressive, considering the 'Noles have been favored by an average of more than three touchdowns per game.
The Orange are 4-5 on the OVER/UNDERS this season, as their games have averaged 47 total points.
The Seminoles are 8-1 on the totals this year, as their games have averaged 64 points.
'Cuse-'Noles Recent History
These two programs, new conference rivals, have no recent history. They last met in 2005, when FSU beat Syracuse (then a member of the Big East Conference), 38-14 also in Tallahassee.
Florida State lost its back-up quarterback last week when Jacob Coker, who has seen mop-up duty in six games this year, suffered a knee injury. Although, in a strange way his absence might help the Seminoles cover a big spread, considering they might be more inclined to leave starter Jameis Winston in a game that's already been decided, rather than insert a third-stringer.
Our Take on Saturday's Game
Just as we said last week when previewing the Florida State-Wake Forest game (on which we picked a winner with FSU -34.5) the Seminoles can't just win this game with a half-hearted effort – they've got to blow Syracuse out to hold on to that No. 2 spot in the BCS standings. Even a mildly close game might open the door for No. 3 Ohio State or even No. 4 Baylor. A sad state of affairs, but true.
Now, will Florida State cover a nearly 40-point spread?
A couple of things should be pointed out; the 'Noles beat Wake last week by 56 points, but that came with help from three defensive/special teams touchdowns. Actually, FSU only rushed for 89 yards last week, and got held to less than 300 yards of offense. So that final score might be a little misleading.
Also, this game is being played in Tallahassee; if it were being played on a neutral field Florida State might be favored by something closer to 30 points.
So, in believing five touchdowns and a field goal might be just a bit too much, we'll be adding the Orange to our College Football picks this Saturday.
College Football Pick: Take Syracuse at the +39 points offered at Pinnacle.