College Football Betting: Florida State Seminoles: Undefeated and Unprofitable
It’s amazing what the Florida State Seminoles can get away with these days. The defending national champions have regained their No. 1 spot on the NCAAF rankings after beating the Miami Hurricanes 30-26 on Saturday. The Seminoles barely cashed in as 3.5-point road favorites (–105), extending their unbeaten record to 10-0 straight up. Two more wins, and Florida State will cruise into the inaugural College Football Playoff.
But as anyone betting on college football can tell you, the Seminoles are barely holding things together. They’re only 3-7 ATS this year, which is a far cry from their 11-3 ATS record during last year’s undefeated romp to the championship. Time and again, FSU has had to claw its way to victory; each of the last four games saw the opposition holding a lead in the second quarter. Miami was up 16-0 early in the second and 26-20 early in the fourth before giving up the ghost.
Seminoles fans can take comfort in the fact that their remaining two games are at home against overmatched teams: the Boston College Eagles (6-4 SU and ATS), and the Florida Gators (5-4 SU, 4-5 ATS), who just announced they’ll be letting head coach Will Muschamp go at the end of the regular season. But the way things have gone this year, Florida State will find it very difficult to beat what’s expected to be a three-touchdown spread this Saturday (3:30 PM ET, ABC) against Boston College.
While more casual bettors may be fooled by FSU’s undefeated record, it doesn’t take much investigation to see something’s amiss in Tallahassee. The F/+ Combined Ratings at Football Outsiders had the Seminoles ranked No. 9 in the FBS (No. 4 offense, No. 29 defense, No. 33 special teams) going into Miami. Reigning Heisman winner Jameis Winston has already thrown 12 picks this year, two more than all of 2013, and with 18 touchdown passes thus far, he’s almost certainly going to fall way short of last year’s 40 touchdowns.
While Winston has been stealing all the headlines (and the crab legs) for Florida State, but people have largely ignored the ground game, where the Seminoles have dropped from 36.1 carries per game at 5.6 yards a pop to 30.9 carries at 4.2 yards each. Devonta Freeman (5.9 yards per carry) was their chief weapon last year, topping the 1,000-yard mark, and he’s backing up Steven Jackson with the Atlanta Falcons now. That leaves Karlos Williams as the primary tailback; he’s only good for 4.3 yards per carry in his new role, down from 8.0 yards in 2013.
However, the bigger drop-off is on defense, where Florida State was ranked No. 1 last year in the F/+ Combined Ratings. This is where fading the ‘Noles has become especially profitable – people just don’t pay enough attention to defense. The Eagles (No. 32 in F/+) might have to settle for a very minor bowl game this year, but at least they can make life very difficult for FSU this Saturday.