Florida State Seminoles @ Louisville Cardinals (Odds provided by DraftKings)
I’m convinced that week 0 games are a cheat code in college football, and I hope that FSU schedules one every year for the rest of my life. After a glorified scrimmage against Duquesne on August 27th, Florida State rolled into the Superdome to take on LSU in Sunday night’s prime time game of Labor Day Weekend, and clearly looked like the more comfortable team (at least up until the game’s final 5 minutes). After leading by two touchdowns for most of the second half, the Seminoles started doing what they have become known for during these past 5+ torturous years, and began to choke the game away. Fortunately for FSU, Brian Kelly’s own mother doesn’t even like him, and the all mighty lord intervened with a blocked extra point after LSU scored the would-be game tying touchdown as time expired, just as all hope seemed lost, sending me and the other 30,000 Garnet & Gold faithful in attendance into a scene of pure jubilation. It was hands down one of the greatest nights of my life, aside from the 2014 Rose Bowl.
Spread: FSU -2.5 (-115) | Louisville +2.5 (-105)
Moneyline: FSU -140 | Louisville +120
Total: Over 57 (-110) | Under 57 (-110)
Due to that week 0 cheat code, FSU gets 2 bye weeks this season, one of which came during week 2, which is my favorite remedy for traveling into a hostile road environment for a Friday night conference game. Since the Seminoles had an extra week of preparation for Louisville, and aren’t coming into the game on short rest, I am unusually optimistic about tonight’s outcome, despite the fact that Scott Satterfield has taken Mike Norvell’s lunch money for the previous two seasons. In the last 2 games against Louisville, Florida State defensive coordinator Adam Fuller and his defense have given up 62 points and 726 total yards, and that’s only in the first half! The Cardinals crowd will no doubt be vicious tonight in the Seminoles first true road test of the season, and while FSU’s performance on the road since Jimbo Fisher packed his bags for Texas aTm has been dreadful, I’m hoping breaking out the all-white uni’s for the first time blinds Louisville’s fans.
The key to an FSU victory tonight is clearly to not allow Louisville to get off to a fast start, and that starts with gap control. UCF transfer Tatum Bethune is the best linebacker FSU has had since Telvin Smith (that’s sad to type), and received his highest defensive grade of the season last year (88.3 according to PFF) against Louisville, while returning starter Kalen DeLoach seems to have taken another step forward in his development this season, after finishing 2021 on a high note. Cardinals quarterback Malik Cummingham has absolutely abused the Seminoles the past couple of years, and mobile quarterbacks have been a thorn in the side of Adam Fuller in general throughout his FSU tenure. Against LSU, the Semioles allowed quarterback Jayden Daniels to rush for 114 yards, despite only giving up 25 yards on 14 carries to LSU running backs. As much as I want to believe that this game can finally be different, taking the over on rushing yards for Cunningham (73.5 -115) seems like a no brainer, especially with FSU expected to be without starting defensive tackle Fabien Lovett for the game.
Seminole starting quarterback Jordan Travis returns to Cardinal Stadium after transferring from Louisville following the 2018 season, and has revenge on his mind. Travis has taken a big leap forward this season as a passer, after predominantly being more of a threat with his legs in seasons past, but showed flashes of his growth over FSU’s final 7 games of 2021, leading the Seminoles to a 5-2 record while throwing 17 touchdown passes to just 2 interceptions, and completing 65% of his passes. I expect the Seminoles to lean heavily on the run game in this one, as they rank 5th nationally in Rush Success Rate (57.6%), while the Cardinals rank 120th nationally in Rush Defense Success Rate (51.4%). Louisville will also be without nose tackle Jermayne Lole, a transfer from Arizona State who was lost for the season due to an elbow injury.
I’m going against my cardinal rule (pun intended) of picking against a home dog in a Friday night game, having grabbed FSU -1.5 earlier in the week, and even though the line has creeped up since then, I’m still confident that the Seminoles head back to Tallahassee with a win and a cover (please don’t make me cry, Noles).
FSU ML (-140) 1.5 unit
FSU -2.5 (-115) 1 unit
Under 57 points (-110) .5 unit
Malik Cunningham over 73.5 rushing yards (-115) 1 unit
Jordan Travis over 1.5 passing touchdowns (-150) .5 unit
Trashaun Ward over .5 rushing touchdowns (-120) 1 unit
Air Force Falcons @ Wyoming Cowboys (Odds provided by DraftKings)
Spread: Air Force -16.5 (-110) | Wyoming +16.5 (-110)
Moneyline: Air Force -675 | Wyoming +500
Total: Over 47 (-110) | Under 47 (-110)
Like I mentioned previously, taking Friday night home dogs has been good to me over the years, and I’ll be going back to the well once again with Wyoming. The only thing that gives me pause here is the line being at 16.5, and I’ll likely wait until closer to kickoff in the hope that I can grab the Cowboys at +17, to get it to that key number, which it did jump to already earlier in the day, before quickly going back down to +16.5 again (hmmm, I wonder why…). After seeing wide receiver Isiash Naylor transfer to Texas, and running back Xazavian Valladay transfer to Arizona State following the 2021 season, it’s clear to me that the Wyoming coaching staff has an eye for talent on the recruiting trail, and I’m sure the cupboard isn’t bare here, despite the loss of two such talented players on offense.
After covering last week’s Boise State @ New Mexico game by the skin of my teeth (had the Lobos at +17.5), I’m a little bit more confident in this one. Air Force is 0-5 in their past five Mountain West openers, which leads me to want to sprinkle a little something on the Wyoming moneyline as well, just in case history repeats itself.
The one thing that gives me pause here is how much the Cowboys defense struggled against the run facing Illinois week 1, getting their doors blown off 38-6, while the Falcons ran the ball down Colorado’s throat last week, churning out 435 yards on the ground. Air Force is going to run the ball, that’s what they do, and it will be up to defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel to learn from week 1’s beatdown, and find a way to slow down the Falcons ground attack if they hope to keep this game close.
Wyoming +16.5 (-110) 1 unit (but wait and see if you can grab it at +17 before kickoff)
Wyoming ML (+500) .25 unit (not for the faint of heart)
JG is a New Jersey based football guru who has bet on all things sports over the last 15+ years. He is a creative and passionate writer who enjoys exploring new ideas and perspectives. You can find all of his picks and predictions on www.playonlinenewjersey.com/