Week 5 – Florida State at South Florida

Posted Sep 26, 2012

Week 5 CFN Fearless Prediction – Florida State at South Florida

Florida State (4-0) at South Florida (2-2) Sept. 29, 6:00, ESPN

Here’s The Deal: Florida State came back in the second half to defeat Clemson in an epic primetime thriller a week. And now it’s back in the national spotlight, favored to win the ACC, and on the doorstep of competing for a shot at a national championship. No. 4 with a bullet in both major polls, the Seminoles figure to be favored from here on out now that they’ve cleared their tallest hurdle. The toughest job in the coming weeks belongs to the coaching staff, which will have to keep the players from becoming consumed by their accolades and press clippings. South Florida and bedeviled head coach Skip Holtz need something positive to happen in the worst way. The Bulls are on the verge of tanking for a second straight year for their head coach, putting forth consecutive hideous efforts in losses to Rutgers and Ball State. Not long ago a trendy pick to lead the Big East, South Florida must now go back to the basics just to prevent the bottom from falling out.

Why Florida State Might Win: The Seminoles are more talented at every position on the field, but that gap will be most noticeable at the line of scrimmage, where South Florida is experiencing its biggest problems. The Bulls didn’t even pressure Ball State QB Keith Wenning last weekend, let alone make a stop behind the line. Florida State has been revelatory up front, affording EJ Manuel the time he needs to find open receivers, and creating huge holes for backs Chris Thompson and James Wilder Jr. When USF has the ball, its O-line will be defenseless against a Florida State pass rush that boasts the ACC’s top two sack men, ends Bjoern Werner and Cornellius Carradine.

Why South Florida Might Win: For the Bulls this week, it’ll all be about the intangibles. They’re home. They’re hungry. And they’re facing a Florida State team that has Clemson in the rear view mirror and a return to ACC play up ahead. Oh, and for a little extra motivation, South Florida QB B.J. Daniels is a Tallahassee native who wasn’t offered by the hometown ‘Noles. USF sure isn’t Clemson, but it does possess enough good athletes to have success against a defense that was deemed mortal after all last week. Daniels is a poor-man’s Boyd, and receivers Andre Davis, Lindsey Lamar and Terrence Mitchell are playmakers with the ball in their hands.

What To Watch Out For: Manuel has more options in the passing than at any point in his college. It’s a key reason why he’s rising up Heisman and NFL Draft boards. Finally deep—and healthy—Florida State is going to hit defenses with an array of size, speed and physicality that includes Rashad Greene, Kelvin Benjamin and Rodney Smith. Plus, Thompson and TE Nick O’Leary should not be ignored by the Bulls linebackers on short and intermediate routes.

What Will Happen: Florida State was shocked by South Florida three years ago. This is not even close to the same situation. Jimbo Fisher and his coaching staff won’t allow a drop-off in effort, and the gap between these two in-state programs has never been wider. Performing with something yet to prove, the Seminoles will continue to play at a high level at Raymond James Stadium, shoving around the Bulls on both sides of the line. This is a very different Florida State team, both physically and how the players approach the game. The only letdown in Tampa will come from the USF fans who expected much more from their team—and Holtz—this fall.

CFN Prediction: Florida State 41 … South Florida 14
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Florida State -17 O/U: 53.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – Ryder Cup 2012, 1 – SNL Thursday Weekend Update): 3