CJ Rooks (@cjrooks0415)
Weekly Picks Part 1 (08/29/13)
For those of you who read my weekly picks last year hopefully it made you some money. I have set a goal for myself this year of 60%. Each week I will be picking a few college and NFL spreads. The card will not be filled with a lot of games, but just the ones I think there is a chance to make money on. Good luck to all this year.
Penn State +2 vs UCF (Neutral Site): If you don’t know the name Christian Hackenberg, you will soon. When you have time today go online and search some of his highlights. This kid is the real deal. Not to mention Penn State is being coached by James Franklin. We all saw what happen to Vanderbilt last night and Franklin will have the Nittany Lions ready. UCF will be replacing Blake Bortles and also Storm Johnson. The defense will be good, but I think they will tire out and will give up a few easy scores. Grab the points while you still can. Penn State +2
Idaho Vandals @ Florida Gators -36: As I mentioned in my previous article. Kurt Roper will be able to put any score he wants to on the board. Muschamp is not on the hot seat, but does need his offense to perform better if he wants a successful year. I think they will. Why in the world is the number so high if the Gators are supposed to be so bad. The Gators only scored thirty points twice last year and now are favored by 36. Vegas is trying to trick you. Pick the Gators -36 before it climbs any higher.
Florida State vs Oklahoma State +18 (Neutral Site): Look I am not calling for an outright upset here, but I don’t think FSU blows Oklahoma State out. Mike Gundy is a good coach and will be prepared for FSU’s stingy defense. FSU comes into this game with a load of hype and will be expected to demolish a Big 12 team. I think a little rust and celebration hangover for Jameis Winston and FSU. I will take Ok State and the points +18.
CJ Rooks (@cjrooks0415)
The Florida Gators will open their revenge tour against the Idaho Vandals this Saturday hoping to bounce back after an abysmal year in 2013.
The Gators return a plethora of talent on the defensive side of the ball and will only miss the absence of Dominique Easley. Not to worry because Dante Fowler is set to explode and will be a force coming off the edge. In the secondary the Gators have the best cornerback in college football with Vernon Hargreaves III. Hargreaves is so good that coaches will allow him to coach other Gator corners on how to get better. The linebackers are experienced and Antonio Morrison will look to return to his dominant form back in 2012. Watch out for Neiron Ball. Ball has overcome major odds and will be a tough, hard hitting player for the defense. The safeties are a little unproven, but are very skilled and will be just fine. Listen for the name Keanu Neal. Just a sophomore, Neal was outstanding on special teams last year and really distanced himself from the other safeties this past spring.
On the offensive side, the Gators are also returning experienced players. The offensive line will be starting two juniors and three seniors, and will be an important part to the revamped offense. DJ Humphries and Chaz Green are finally healthy and ready for a productive year. The running backs will be led by stud sophomore Kelvin Taylor. Before the end of the year he will be making a statement as one of the best players in the SEC. The wide receiver group is the most talented it has been in a long time. Quinton Dunbar will fill the role as the reliable senior and Demarcus Robinson is ready to be noticed on the field instead of off it. Let’s also not forget the tight end position. Virginia transfer Jake McGee will be a star in Kurt Ropers offense and will help spread the field for Jeff Driskel. We all remember what Jordan Reed was able to do for the Gators back in 2012. Gator fans are literally begging for any type change and higher scoring might help with the lack of tickets being sold. Offense fills the seats and is the perfect medicine to cure those hot days and nights early in the season.
Gator fans will also get a look at the new and improved Jeff Driskel. As you recall Driskel’s season was cut short last year after just the 3rd game. Fans and critics were willing to anoint freshmen Will Grier as the starting quarterback for the upcoming season, but Driskel had a strong spring and is ready to prove his doubters wrong. He is now playing in an offense that is much better suited for someone with his skillset. Driskel will be able to get the ball out of his hands quicker and will also use his speed in the open field. Say what you want about Kurt Roper, but ask anyone that has been around him and they will tell you he is a great coach and a brilliant offensive mind. Let’s not forget what he did with Duke last year. Duke was in the ACC Championship!! Who would have ever predicted that?
My 2014 Prediction: The Gators will surprise everyone. They are the team that nobody is talking about and come into the year unranked. Regardless of what the internet might say Muschamp is not on the hot seat. Last year was not his fault, and the only way he is gone after this year is if they suffer a complete meltdown. I think the Gators finish the season with a 9-3 record which might be enough to send them to Atlanta. That is this team’s number one goal.
As far as this weekend, look for a blowout. Roper should be able put any number he wants to on the scoreboard and the defense will stifle an Idaho team that finished 1-11 last year. Final score Gators 45, Vandals 7.
By:Alex Turko (@aturko_23)
For the first time since hoisting the crystal ball in Pasadena, the Seminoles will take the field in hopes of winning their 17th consecutive game. Although the Noles are heavy favorites in this season opener, the Cowboys do have some weapons that the Seminoles should be wary of. Mike Gundy is known as an offensive genius and you can rest assured that he will be gunning hard to pull off an upset on what he calls: the best team he’s ever coached against.
Starting under center for Gundy’s offense is dual-threat quarterback, J.W. Walsh. Walsh can be a dangerous runner and backs up his sheer athleticism with experience. He threw for over 1,000 yards last season while splitting time with Clint Chelf. Walsh was never overly impressive and could find himself in some trouble while facing the ferocious Seminole defense. Gundy did come out on Thursday and say that he expected both back-up quarterbacks too see the field Saturday night. This revolving door at quarterback approach has been known to take offenses out of rhythm with a different guy constantly being under center, but it is worth noting that the Seminole defense could get three different looks.
Oklahoma State’s running game was relatively effective last season and they look to build on those efforts with returning leading rusher Desmond Roland. Roland might be the proven commodity, but newcomer, Tyreek Hill, is the true game-breaker. Hill, a JUCO transfer, was recruited by FSU and has blistering speed. He has the ability to break the game wide open in the slot or at running back, so look for Gundy to get the ball in his hands early and often.
The spread offense that the Cowboys run won’t create too many problems for the Seminoles as their deepest and arguably most talented unit is their secondary. Something to keep your eye on will be if the Noles can find a dominant pass-rusher. Christian Jones, last year’s linebacker, was by no means dominant, but he was very productive as pass-rusher. Filling in that role for the defense will be sophomore Chris Casher, who is an unbelievable athlete given his size and strength. If Casher can generate enough pressure on a consistent basis, defensive coordinator Charles Kelly should be able to drop more players back in coverage to cover this spread attack.
I think that the Noles will come out of the gates slow. However, that does not mean I think they will find themselves down by more than three at any point in the first quarter. With a Seminole offensive line that out-weighing the Cowboys front 4 38 pounds per man, I expect the running game to be unstoppable while the passing game works through some early kinks. By halftime, I expect the Noles to have a comfortable lead that will only get bigger as the second half continues.
Final Prediction: 55-10 Florida State
Alex Turko (@aturko_23)
Florida State has the privilege to be ranked as the number 1 team in the preseason polls as well as being an overwhelming favorite to make it to the 4-team playoff. Those rankings aren’t surprising considering the Noles are on a 16 game win-streak and return the Heisman trophy quarterback from last seasons’ title team. However, these flatteries come with a price; an extremely large target will be on their back. They will receive the best shot from every team that they face because their opponent wants to be the one to take down the goliath. Although Vegas has the Noles as the favorite in all of their match-ups, there are three games that shouldn’t be overlooked no matter how much they are favored.
Notre Dame (October 18th): This will be one of the most anticipated duels of the entire football season, featuring 2 of the most prestigious programs in the country. The Irish will be returning senior quarterback, Everett Golson, who only led the “Golden Domers” to the national title game in his only season as a starter. He spent all of last season (while suspended) refining his game with quarterback guru, George Whitfield, leading one to believe that he will be better than before. The Irish lack explosive wide receivers but with Golson’s ability to keep plays alive with his feet, the big play is never too far away. Notre Dame hosts a talented backfield that lines up behind a veteran laden offensive line. Their defense has many questions to be answered after a disappointing season last year and they will want to be on top of their game before facing the reigning Heisman trophy winner. Bryan Kelly could roll into Doak Campbell Stadium undefeated, which would only heighten the anticipation of this game. With a few forced turnovers and a sound football game, they could stun the home crowd in Tallahassee.
@Louisville (October 30th): Ah, the annual Thursday night game against an upset-hungry home team. The last time Florida State faced Louisville was in 2002 during a torrential downpour. The Cardinals upset the then 4th ranked Seminoles during this Thursday night showdown going down as one of the biggest upsets in Seminole history. Jimbo Fisher will look to go into Papa Johns Stadium and dominate the Cardinals early to end any hope of an upset. Louisville’s first year head coach, Bobby Petrino (his second stint with the program), is known for putting offensive players in scoring positions despite their talent. Western Kentucky had the 49th total offense last season with minimal talent under Petrino. Although the Cardinals lose quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, they return DeVante Parker who is one of the most dominate receivers in the game. Eli Rodgers and James Quick are two other wide-outs that the staff has high expectations for. At quarterback, Will Gardner, has drawn positive reviews thus far in camp and is expected to be a valid replacement to Bridgewater. The Cardinals offense will be productive this season but the question lies with the defense that has lost 7 starters including Marcus Smith who was 2nd in the nation in sacks, and 1st round draft pick Calvin Pryor (safety). The Cardinals are capable of giving the Seminoles a scare on the road, but it is hard to imagine they can hang with the champs for 4 whole quarters.
Florida (November 29th): I know most FSU fans will see that I’ve listed the Gators and roll their eyes pleading: “they were 4-8 last season,” but hear me out. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, last season was a fluke. Offensive coordinator, Brent Pease, was abysmal and injuries decimated any chance that the Gators had to beat a legitimate team. That being said, the team “down there” should always strike caution to Florida State. If healthy, the Gators offense has an entire year to gel with their new offensive coordinator, Kurt Roper, who did an exceptional job last season at Duke. Florida always possesses talented athletes and they should be able to score much more effectively this season under Roper. The defense should always be expected to top 10. They have an extremely talented secondary, led by sophomore Vernon Hargreaves III. By the last regular season game of the year the Gators may hit full stride and be a team that has the confidence and momentum that could make them a threat to the Noles (and the SEC East). The good news for the Florida State faithful is that this will be a home game where the Noles will look to seek revenge from their painful 37-26 loss in 2012. Many, myself included, believe that the Noles had a better team that season but could not overcome the 5 turnovers that were lost in that game. This season will give the Seminoles a chance to take back their home turf against their arch rival and possibly keep the train rolling as they enter the post season.
By: Logan Bryan
Florida State fans everywhere should be on the look-out for a repeat for a few reasons: Jimbo Fisher, a revamped defense, and Florida State football has an advantage no other college football team in the nation has: Doak Campbell Stadium.
Fisher has certainly worked his way with his recruits, regardless of position. I actually believe this is the major reason why the Seminoles won the BCS National Championship Game last season: because Jimbo Fisher executes perfect discipline with every one of his players. His way with maintaining Heisman winner Jameis Winston throughout the season was phenomenal in my opinion. It is no surprise that Fisher secured the number one quarterback prospect this past signing season, as Winston’s run at Florida State may sadly be coming to an end here shortly.
Florida State’s defense was top five in the nation in pretty much every category. However, due to graduating seniors and players leaving school early for the NFL draft, most of their impact players on defense are gone and they have to find players who would be just as good, if not better. Without former defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruit, who left for Georgia, Florida State and fans don’t need to worry since the promotion of linebackers coach Charles Kelly to the same position has all the markings of success. Under Kelly as linebackers coach, FSU intercepted 26 passes. Kelly should have no problem working as defensive coordinator, as he has proven himself worthy in the past.
One of the best part about game days in Tallahassee is Doak Campbell Stadium. Recently I had the privilege to visit Florida State and I made sure to visit Doak. Since the start of the 1998 season, the Seminoles are 124-22-1 at home, and overall they are 268-90-4 at home. Playing in front of at least 82,000 people every Saturday can either make a team skittish, or fire up a team. Also knowing that Doak has more capacity than most NFL stadiums can do the same, which is why Florida State uses it to there advantage, and wins at home.
Maybe Florida State will win the first college football playoff. I won’t be surprised. You shouldn’t be either now.