Monday, December 31, 2007

Music City Bowl Preview

Florida State vs Kentucky 4:30 ET ESPN
Nashville, TN
Line: KY -9, 57




Florida State Seminoles (7-5, 4-4)
It seems that seasons like this are now more the norm than the exception at FSU. The Seminoles failed to compete for the ACC title and were plagued by inconsistent QB play again. Since their last game, FSU has endured a cheating scandal and the hiring of a future head coach while their current one is still on the job (and doesn't have plans of his own to leave).
Best Win: @ BC 27-17
Worst Loss: @ Florida 12-45
Record vs Bowl Teams: 4-4
Schedule Strength: 52nd
HC Bowden Record in Bowls: 20-9-1

Kentucky Wildcats (7-5, 3-5)
Kentucky's program has come a long way under Rich Brooks who was almost fired two years ago. For two weekends in a row this season, Kentucky was the center of the college football universe. After beating LSU in 3 0T, the Wildcats hosted Florida and ESPN Gameday in a losing effort. The Heisman run of QB Andre Woodson and all of the close games took a toll on Rich Brooks' club though as they lost 4 of their last 5 down the stretch with the lone win coming against Vanderbilt.
Best Win: vs LSU 43-37 3OT
Worst Loss: vs Miss St 14-31
Record vs Bowl Teams: 4-3
Schedule Strength: 9th
HC Brooks Record in Bowl Games: 2-3


Florida St Offense:
The Seminoles brought in former LSU OC Jimbo Fisher to run their offense after the Jeff Bowden debacle, but have yet to see results. The Noles scored above 30 points just 1 game this year and were held below 21 in 6 outings. Drew Weatherford will get the starting nod after platooning with Xavier Lee this year; Lee is suspended for the game. WR Greg Carr is a great red zone receiver at 6'6". Antone Smith has had a decent year running the ball, but also watch for Preston Parker. Two starting offensive lineman are also suspended and FSU is only bringing 6 scholarship lineman to Nashville.

Kentucky Defense:

The Wildcats have struggled on defense this year, especially against the run. 11 of their 12 opponents ran for over 100 yards against them. Kentucky is pretty good against the pass allowing just 1 team to throw for more than 260 yards on them. LB Wesley Woodyard, another senior, is the Wildcats best defender. DE Jeremy Jarmon and his 9 sacks will hope to take advantage of a depleted FSU o-line.

Kentucky Offense:

Offense is the engine that drives Kentucky. In three games, they scored more than 50 points and eight times were above 40. Woodson will be playing his final game in Kentucky blue. The senior threw 36TDs and over 3,600 yards on the season. Rafael Little will get the majority of the carries due to an injury to Derrick Locke. Kentucky's number one receiver Keenan Burton is doubtful due to injuries. If he cannot go, then Woodson will turn to Dicky Lyons Jr and TE Jacob Tamme. The magic number for the Wildcats is 24 because they were 0-3 when scoring under that mark.

Florida State Defense:
It is expected that FSU will be without two starting d-lineman putting pressure on the LB corps which are led by Geno Hayes and Derek Nicholson. Top DB Patrick Robinson is also rumored to be out leaving the Noles without their top corner. When at full strength, FSU's D was pretty good giving up just 22 ppg and 350 total ypg.


Odds and Ends:
Kentucky is appearing in two consecutive bowls for the first time since 98-99. The Wildcats will be going for consecutive bowl victories for the first time since 1950-51. Kentucky could make a clean sweep of the Bowden's in bowls after beating Tommy last year.

The full list of suspended Seminoles will not be fully known until game time. Bobby Bowden has done very well in bowl games and is undefeated in December bowls. FSU is making its 26th straight bowl appearance.

Motivation:

This one will be tough to figure. Kentucky could not be taking this game seriously considering 36 FSU players will not be making the trip. They could be thinking they can just show up and win. FSU on the other hand has to be down about the scandal that has rocked the entire athletic department. But it could be a motivating factor for the backups who will get a chance to showcase their abilities.

Prediction:
I want to pick Kentucky big, but I am worried about their focus because of the suspensions. Still, if FSU's starters can only go 7-5 in the ACC then how can their backups beat an SEC team? Bowden has always been very good in bowl games, but his control of the program is slowly being taken out of his hands. I think Kentucky and their 40,000+ fans in Nashville drive them to victory, but the Noles make it interesting.
Kentucky 34 Florida State 27
Kentucky Wins, FSU Covers, Over

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