Friday, December 31, 2010

South Carolina-FSU Chick Fil A Bowl Preview and Prediction

After UNC's win over Tennessee, the ACC hopes to make it 2-0 against the SEC in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.

When: Dec 31 7:30 PM ET
Where: ATL
Line: S. Car -3 (open -3)

Here are the three areas I look at for making bowl picks.

Who Has The Better Team?
FSU Offense Yards Per Point(YPP): 12.2
South Carolina Offense YPP: 12.3

Both of these teams have been very efficient on offense this season ranking near the top in yards per point (lower is better on offense). Considering how good these offenses have been late in the season I would expect a shootout.  I like yards per point because of the efficiency it captures on each side of the ball. Yards per play is good too, but doesn't take points scored/allowed into account.

FSU Defense YPP: 17.6
South Carolina Defense YPP: 15.6

The Gamecocks pass defense has had it troubles this year and it must be because the defensive backs are that bad in coverage. The front seven is one of the best in the SEC at tackles for loss so they are getting pressure on opposing QBs. FSU's defense has made huge strides in year one under Coordinator Mark Stoops. I still can't believe how bad the last few defenses were for Mickey Andrews after all those great units in years past.

S. Carolina Sagarin Rating: 17 with the 14th ranked strength of schedule
FSU Sagarin Rating: 19 with the 25th ranked strength of schedule

As expected, South Carolina played the tougher schedule, but playing Va Tech, UNC, and Miami in addition to a better than expected ACC Atlantic helped the Seminoles.
Edge: Even

Which Coach Will Have His Team Better Prepared?
Steve Spurrier is 7-9 in bowl games all time and 1-3 at South Carolina. He has been favored in three of his four bowl games as the Gamecocks head coach. I still think Spurrier is one of the best game planners when given time, but my trepidation about his teams performance in the bowl game is explained below.

Jimbo Fisher has never been the head coach in a bowl game so we really don't know what to expect.
Edge: Slight South Carolina

Which Team Will Be More Motivated?
I am going to give FSU the slight edge here even though they too lost in their conference championship game. I think the Seminoles program feels a lot more momentum with blowout wins over Miami and especially Florida coupled with a surging recruiting class.

It looked like to me South Carolina ALMOST quit in the SEC Championship Game. Tough to say because Auburn is so good, but I have my questions. Going back to Spurrier being such a good game planner above, his team has showed quit in bowl games in years past that gives me pause in how good his game plan will really show.
Edge: Slight FSU

Prediction
Like many of the past Chick Fil A Bowl games (not the past two) this one should go right down to the wire.

I initially liked FSU in this game but with the uncertainty surrounding starting QB Christian Ponder I like the Gamecocks' odds. Jimbo Fisher has said Ponder will play but I worry about a re-injury putting him out again. The Seminoles come up just short on a long field goal attempt to win at the end.

South Carolina 29 Florida State 27
Confidence: 10

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