Get the best handicapping articles and gambling advice throughout the football, basketball and baseball seasons from the world's top sports handicappers, as well as from Bovada (Bodog) Sportsbook and Casino.
Florida St/UNC Preview
by Matt Fargo - 10/21/2009
The line movement has not been much as the Tar Heels opened as one to two-point favorites and the line has risen slightly to -2.5 with a -3 out there as well. This is a surprising line move as most money has come in on Florida St. yet the line is going the opposite way.
The total opened at 48 and has remained steady.
For Florida St., defensive tackle Budd Thacker will not be available after being diagnosed with a grade-three sprained MCL. Also senior linebacker Dekoda Watson may not play due to a groin injury. Those are two significant injuries on an already struggling defense.
The Tar Heels have a sizable number of questionables on the injury list but none are to any significant players.
It should be a great night in Chapel Hill with mostly cloudy skies and a low of 64 degrees with little to no wind.
Bye Bye Bowden?
What has happened to Florida St.? The Seminoles have lost three straight games and are sitting at 2-4, their worst start since Bobby Bowden took over the program in 1976. The Seminoles have hit hard times in recent years but nothing like this and the top program in Florida a few years back is lucky to be the fourth best right now.
The big story two weeks ago was that the boosters immediately wanted Bowden out and it was almost as though that story took precedence of the actual game taking place. It looks as though headlines got in the way as Florida St. dropped its game against Georgia Tech.
I think we have seen the end of the legendary coach as he simply is not getting the players he once did and what he does get, he is having trouble coaching. Add to that, the other Florida schools have coaches that players can relate to and that makes a big difference in the recruiting wars.
A report surfaced late Monday night that said offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher’s contract was “done.” About that, Fisher said the report was wrong. “There's never been a contract presented to me,” Fisher said. “I've never spoken to them about it.”
Something’s Gotta Give
Strength against strength. Power against Power. Call it what you want but what we will have on display should be a great matchup of the Florida St. offense against the North Carolina defense.
The Seminoles are 27th in the nation and first in the ACC in total offense with 426 ypg. They are also second in the conference in passing offense and that goes right into the teeth of the Tar Heels defense. They Heels are third in the country in total defense, first in the ACC, but they are also third in passing efficiency defense and that is huge against the Seminoles.
The Tar Heels are not only first in the ACC in total defense, but also first in scoring defense and second in rushing defense which is probably very surprising to the average fan. However, North Carolina brought back nine starters from an above average unit last season so this jump is not overly surprising at all.
In the Spotlight
North Carolina basketball has been the center of attention for years so appearing on National Television is just something we are accustomed to. How about the football team though? This is actually the first ever Thursday home game for North Carolina and while it says something about the past, it also says something about where head coach Butch Davis has taken this program.
“You get basically a four-hour infomercial that you get a chance to talk about Chapel Hill, talk about the University of North Carolina,” Davis said. “It was an unbelievable cooperation by a lot of people to help make this happen, and we're very grateful they allowed us to do it.”
The Tar Heels have played in the spotlight before, just not at home. Last season they went to Rutgers and put the hammer down on the Scarlett Knights 44-12. Excluding a 28-0 loss at Virginia in 2006, which led to then-coach John Bunting’s resignation, North Carolina has won four of its other five Thursday night contests.
Florida St. owns a commanding 14-1-1 advantage over North Carolina, but these teams have not played each other in five years.
Offense Feeling Blue
While the North Carolina defense has been at the top of its game, the offense has been the exact opposite. The Tar Heels knew coming into the season that the offensive line was going to have some struggles but they never would have predicted this.
The Tar Heels are 117th in the nation in total offense, averaging a mere 282.2 ypg and their 22.5 ppg scoring average is good for only 95th. The issues are twofold as they can’t run the ball or pass the ball as they are 102nd and 103rd respectively in those categories.
This inept offense leaves the Tar Heels in too many third and long situations and that has led to them converting only 30 percent on third down which is 112th in the land. Surprisingly, North Carolina is 11th in fourth down conversions as it has made it in five of seven attempts.
So what is a good remedy for this? Facing the Seminoles defense that can’t stop anything for starters. The Florida St. defense has made teams look great on offense. Miami is averaging 390 ypg but had 476 against the Seminoles. Boston College is averaging 301 ypg but had 399 against Florida St. Georgia Tech is averaging 427 ypg but had 532 in the last game. Didn’t Florida St. used to possess the most feared defenses in college football?
Based on the line, the Seminoles have the historical edge as they are 8-3-2 ATS in their last 13 games as an underdog while North Carolina is just 7-19 ATS in its last 26 games as a home favorite.
In all of his years at Florida St., Bowden has rarely been involved is high scoring games such as the last one against the Yellow Jackets. He is 6-0 ATS after a home game where both teams score 31 or more points showing just how rare it really is.
As for the total, the ‘Over’ is 11-3 in the Seminoles last 14 road games against a team with a winning home record while the ‘Over’ is 6-2 in the Tar Heels last eight games against a team with a losing record.