Oklahoma vs. Florida State Cheez-It Bowl Preview and Pick
Thursday is another busy sports day with a couple late bowl games as well as a six-game slate in the NBA. Here’s a preview of the Cheez-It Bowl featuring Oklahoma vs. Florida State.
The 6-6 Sooners are hoping to surprise the 9-3 Seminoles tonight and avoid having their first losing season since 1998. And an FSU win would give them their first 10-win season since 2016, so there is plenty of history on the line in Orlando tonight at the Camping World Stadium.
Dynamic Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis will be back at school next season and will face a struggling Sooner defense that’s allowed more than 35 points per game over their last six. Travis is the fourth player in school history to rack up at least 3,000 yards and score at least 30 touchdowns, and brings the Seminoles and their strong rushing offense into this one on a five-game winning streak. FSU ranks ninth in Rushing Success Rate and running back Trey Benson has been a beast, averaging 6.8 yards per carry. And Florida State's offense averaged 6.6 yards per play and ranked 15th in Success Rate.
The Sooners, on the other hand, come in as losers in three of their last four games and are still recovering from a 51-48 overtime loss to Texas Tech in the final game of the regular season. The offense is led by QB Dillon Gabriel, who’s thrown for nearly 3,000 yards and 29 TDs, and his favorite targets, Marvin Mims and Brayden Willis. Willis is the team leader in receiving TDs. And while many bowl games feature depleted teams due to transfers and players prepping for the NFL Draft, this game mostly got a pass. But, unfortunately for the Sooners, lead running back Eric Gray opted out. The loss of Gray, who rushed for 1,366 yards and 11 TDs, could make it tough for the Sooners to keep their powerful running game going. But freshman RB Jovantae Barnes will likely take on the lead role tonight so if nothing else, Sooner fans will get a glimpse into the future. Barnes rushed 89 times for 411 yards and four TDs this season. In addition to Gray, defensive lineman Jalen Redmond and offensive linemen Wanya Morris and Anton Harrison also opted out for the Sooners
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When Oklahoma held opponents to 14 or fewer points they were 5-0 this season. When the opposition scored more than two TDs they were 1-6. Florida State is ranked No. 13 for a reason and features the best running attack in the ACC. They’re also in the Top 20 in the country in total offense, as well as scoring. And defensively, FSU’s strength is its secondary, which means Oklahoma is going to have to get it done on the ground tonight.
The bottom line is that Oklahoma’s defense has mostly been a disaster this season and Florida State’s offense is intact and running on all cylinders right now. The question is, can FSU cover the 10 points? They’re playing a team that lost 49-0 to Texas and 55-24 to TCU this season so OU is capable of being blown out. And with Florida State basically playing at home and at nearly full strength against a marginal Oklahoma team missing their key ground weapon, I’m taking the Seminoles minus the points.
Pick: Florida State -10