The No. 2 Oregon Ducks take on the No. 3 Florida State Seminoles on Thursday, January 1st in the 2015 Rose Bowl game presented by Northwestern Mutual. This playoff semifinal will take place in Pasadena, CA.
Florida State (13-0) capped off a perfect regular season with another narrow 37-35 win over Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship. Oregon (12-1) revenged its lone loss of the season to Arizona with a 51-13 beat down of the Wildcats in the Pac-12 Championship.
Kickoff inside the Rose Bowl in Pasadena is scheduled for 5:00 EST Thursday night with ESPN providing the television coverage. If you are looking to wager on this game, you’ll find Oregon as a 9.5-point favorite over Florida State with a total set of 71 points.
My Early Lean: Florida State +9.5
There are many that believe the Seminoles are not one of the best four teams in the country. They have won so many close games this season, seven by six points or less in fact, so their argument does have some weight. However, this team has played a much tougher schedule than they did a year ago, and I’m not so sure that this team isn’t as good as the one that won the national title last year.
There is something to be said for a team that just finds a way to win games. Florida State has now won a whopping 29 straight games dating back over the past three seasons. Now, the Seminoles find themselves in the role of the underdog for the first time in the last two years. They are getting no respect from the books in this game. While they may ultimately have their winning streak come to an end against the Ducks, I don’t believe it will be by double-digits, which is what it would take for them to fail to cover this huge 9.5-point spread.
There is something to be said for a team that just finds a way to win games. Florida State has now won a whopping 29 straight games dating back over the past three seasons.
Oregon comes in way overvalued due to not only winning eight straight games, but also covering the spread in eight straight. The betting public has taken notice and has been quick to back the Ducks. This has forced oddsmakers to set the line for this game higher than it should be. It’s usually a wise move to fade the public, and that’s precisely what I’ll recommend doing in this game Thursday.
Florida State, on the other hand, actually comes in undervalued despite its perfect 13-0 record this year. That’s because it has gone just 3-10 ATS in all games. It simply created expectations for itself after winning the national title that it could not live up to this year. The Seminoles have been favored in every game they have played this year, and most of the time by too many points. That’s why there has been so much value in going against them up to this point. That fade value is now all gone, and it’s time to jump back on them.
The Seminoles boast an elite offense that puts up 34.8 points, 434.8 yards and 6.4 yards per play against opponents that allow just 25.3 points, 360 yards and 5.3 per play. So, they are scoring 10 points per game and averaging 75 yards per game more than their opponents allow on the season. Jameis Winston just finds a way to get it done when the game is in the balance, and my money is on him to do so on the biggest of stages again in this one.
Oregon has put up some gaudy numbers offensively this year. However, you have to factor in who they have played before you get too excited about this offense. They have played defenses that allow 31.7 points and 432 yards per game on the season. That is a much softer slate than what the Seminoles have been up against this year. I would only give the Ducks a slight edge on offense.
Defensively, the edge has to go to the Seminoles, who are giving up 23.0 points and 378.3 yards per game. Oregon allows 413.8 yards per game this season as its stop unit simply has not been that good. I believe one of the biggest reasons the Seminoles have a chance to win this game is their run defense, which only allows 3.9 yards per carry. Unlike most other teams the Ducks face, the Seminoles actually have the athleticism and speed defensively to match up with Oregon’s offense.
Florida State is 22-9 ATS in its last 31 games after failing to cover the spread in four of its last five games coming in. The Seminoles are 37-21 ATS in their last 58 games following two or more consecutive ATS losses. Florida State is 8-1-1 ATS in its last 10 bowl games. It has won six straight bowl games coming in and has not lost a bowl game by double-digits since 2003.