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Champs Sports Bowl: Florida State (8-4) vs. Notre Dame (8-4)

Bowl Game Betting Pick
EJ Manuel FSU QB

Thursday’s bowl action kicks off from Orlando as two teams who had higher hopes this season, Florida State and Notre Dame, meet in the Champs Sports Bowl. FSU is a 3-point college football bets favorite on WagerWeb.com.

Both Brian Kelly and Jimbo Fisher have their programs on the rise, though a steeper ascent was expected of both this season. If it weren’t for turnovers (Notre Dame) and injuries (Florida State), these teams could be playing in a big-money bowl. The Seminoles’ only loss in their last seven games was at home to Virginia, while the Irish’s only losses since mid-September came against Pac-12 powers USC and Stanford.

Florida State, which was ranked No. 6 in the AP preseason poll and predicted by the media to win the ACC title this year, enters the game against Notre Dame struggling offensively. FSU is No. 99 in the country in rushing offense, and No. 111 in sacks allowed.

Florida State has thrived this year, though, on its defense and special teams. FSU is No. 9 in the country in sacks, No. 5 in tackles for loss, No. 6 in total defense, No. 4 in scoring defense, and No. 2 in rushing defense. It also claimed another unofficial “state championship” this year, with wins over rivals Miami and Florida.

Notre Dame’s 0-2 start made this trip to Orlando almost a foregone conclusion. Losses along the way to USC and Stanford confirmed it. Tommy Rees will start for the Irish against Florida State, his 12th straight start since replacing Dayne Crist in Week 1. Crist’s release was granted by Kelly. Andrew Hendrix, who replaced Rees at Stanford, will see some time as well.

The Irish are led by receiver Michael Floyd on offense, as the senior will look to end his career with an exclamation point after rewriting the school record books. Floyd, named team MVP for the second straight year, set a single-season school record with 95 receptions while leading the Irish with 1,106 yards and eight TDs. He will leave South Bend as the most prolific wideout in Notre Dame’s fabled history, holding marks for catches (266), yards (3,645) and touchdowns (36).

The matchup will mark the independent Irish’s fourth in five games against an ACC opponent. They’re 3-0 so far, but none can match the toughness of the Seminoles defense.

This marks the second appearance by FSU in the Champs Sports Bowl, as it defeated Wisconsin 42-13 in the 2008 game. FSU has a 24-14-2 (.625) record in 40 bowl appearances, the sixth-best percentage record by a school with 15 or more bowl appearances. The Seminoles will be facing the Fighting Irish for the seventh time, having won four of the previous six meetings, including a 37-0 win at South Bend in 2003.

SA Take: These teams match up very well in our opinion. Many handicappers have this game as a toss up. But we are going to take FSU on this one. They have been bulding quite a speedy team there and Notre Dame, while getting much better, is still not up to the same talent level.

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Thursday, December 29th, 2011 College Football Betting 2011

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