Matchup: Oklahoma State vs. #1 Florida State (in Arlington, Texas)
Date/Time: August 30, 8:00 p.m. ET
Spread: Florida State -17.5
The Florida State Seminoles ran the table last year. Jameis Winston won the Heisman Trophy as a freshman and led his team to a perfect 14-0 season including a BCS Championship. The Seminoles came from behind to knock out Auburn in the closing minutes of a tremendous title game. They start the season number one this year, and now everyone is gunning for them. Oklahoma State has won at least ten games in three of the past four years. These two meet in what should be a great environment for football at AT&T Stadium Saturday.
Jimbo Fisher has done an amazing job recruiting, and the 2014 Florida State Seminoles appear at least as good as last year’s team, at least on paper. They’ll have to get it done on the field, and with the added four-team playoff it will make the road a little bit tougher for a team like the Seminoles. Florida State plays in a very weak conference, but they will test themselves here in the season opener. Winston threw for 40 touchdowns and 4,057 yards last year. He hasn’t looked like anything short of tremendous on the field. As long as he can stay out of trouble, the Seminoles have a superstar leading them into battle each week.
Florida State’s offense is loaded with talent in the backfield and the wide receivers are excellent as well. Rashad Greene will likely become the school’s leading receiver all-time this year if he stays healthy. The offensive line is arguably the best in the nation.
Defensively, Florida State allowed just 12.1 points per game last year. The Seminoles gave up just 3.3 yards per carry and allowed only 157 passing yards per game. Some key players are gone from last year’s defense, but if ever there were a team with plenty of depth to make up for some key losses this is the one. This group is a little shorter on experience, but there are plenty deep in athleticism and ability. They’ll be one of the best in the nation again.
Oklahoma State is a team that comes into this game with a ton of question marks. Every single player on Oklahoma State’s roster that won first, second, or third-team All Big 12 honors a year ago is now gone. The Cowboys return just four starters on offense and four starters on defense. The cupboard is never bare at Oklahoma State under Mike Gundy, but I do think this team is in for a rebuilding year. JW Walsh gets the starting quarterback job, and he’s a guy I’m not very high on. Walsh doesn’t have the arm strength to complete the toughest passes against a secondary like Florida State’s. The running game appears solid, and I look for Oklahoma State to run much more than normal this year behind one of the best offensive lines in the Big 12.
The Cowboys defense is my single biggest concern. Eight of Oklahoma State’s top nine tacklers from a year ago are gone. They lost six of their top eight players in the secondary. Justin Gilbert is a massive loss there. Opponents completed just 53.6% of their passes a year ago, but that number will go way up this season. The linebackers are weak after losing their top two from this area. Only the defensive line appears to be a quality group. Look for this defense to give up a bunch of points this year.
Free College Football Pick: Florida State -17.5
I don’t like laying this many points, but I think there is a large enough talent gap between these two teams to go with the favorite. Winston should have a field day against this secondary, and the Seminoles will make a statement in game one.
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