The marquee college football game of the week is Sunday night’s clash between the No. 8 Florida State Seminoles and the No. 5 LSU Tigers in Orlando.
The teams met last season in New Orleans, with Florida State winning 24-23.
Both schools feature senior quarterbacks among the top three in futures odds to win the Heisman Trophy. Both possess top-shelf run/pass ability and are elite caretakers of the football.
Jordan Travis led Florida State last season with 24 touchdown passes to only five interceptions, while Jayden Daniels, firmly entrenched as the LSU leader, threw 17 touchdown passes with only three picks.
Florida State’s standout defensive lineman Jared Verse seeks to slow LSU’s multipronged attack, while Tigers linebacker Harold Perkins will try to thwart a Seminoles offense that ranked among the top 20 in points last season — and brought in plenty of help via the transfer portal including Michigan State wide receiver Keon Coleman.
—Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
—Location: Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida.
—Point Spread: LSU (-2.5)
These teams are evenly matched and equally motivated.
With little margin for error, the Tigers and Seminoles view this prime-time duel as a huge hurdle to clear en route to College Football Playoff contention.
With Daniels and the usual impressive complement of skill position help, LSU carries a narrow edge in experience and playmaking ability.
Florida State’s offense could find trouble as the LSU defense, keyed by Perkins, is likely to disrupt the Seminoles scheme to some degree.
That said, if Florida State establishes the run, the LSU pass rush would become less of an issue.
Bookmakers don’t seem to be moving off the 2.5-point line in favor of LSU, so Florida State backers aren’t likely to get the 3-point cushion unless they accept the added juice.
Our Pick: LSU 30, Florida State 24
Florida State doubled its win total from 2021 with a 10-3 mark last season under coach Mike Norvell, who begins his fourth year with FSU. The Seminoles enter Sunday night’s game with their highest preseason ranking since 2017.
LSU, under coach Brian Kelly, continues to build on its recent success – the Tigers won the national title following the 2019 season behind quarterback Joe Burrow and receivers JaMarr Chase and Justin Jefferson – and are approaching the popularity of SEC brethren Alabama and Georgia.
“The LSU brand is strong; it’s more than just football,” Kelly said, adding, “It’s a major, national brand.”
Supporting that sentiment, via LSU, is the social media account impressions in August (FaceBook, Twitter and Instagram):
1. LSU, 357 million
2. Ohio State, 313m
3. Alabama, 265m
4. Michigan, 228m
5. Oklahoma, 173m
The Orlando location, despite being in Florida, isn’t likely to prove much of an edge for Florida State; the LSU fan base travels notoriously well.
THEY SAID IT
“A majority of the players came back, a majority of the leaders came back. … We won 10 games last year. Now, people are looking at us to win more, so all eyes are on us. … Last year we were trying to hunt the Alabamas and Georgias down. But now people are looking at us like, ‘OK, we need to hunt them down,’ so we’re being hunted but at the end of the day we still gotta have the mindset we’re still the hunters.”
— LSU QB Jayden Daniels on the Hey Fightin’ Podcast
It’s the quarterbacks, both of whom played all 14 games last season: Daniels threw for 2,913 yards and rushed for another 885. Florida State’s Travis threw for 3,214 yards and ran for another 417.
The playmakers on these teams set the stage for an entertaining matchup, with NFL scouts watching closely. Daniels now is fully aware of the pressure that comes with elite-level opponents. He’ll be able to take Kelly’s cues and lead the Tigers to a quick start.
With Perkins leading the motivated LSU defense, the Seminoles should face enough uncertainty for the offense to struggle early.
LSU (first half, -0.5, -110) is the play.
—Field Level Media
Original source here
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