South Carolina vs. Florida State Chick-fil-A Bowl

The Chick-fil-A Bowl may not be a BCS matchup but it’s still a pretty serious bowl game for college football betting sharps to ponder. We can’t go wrong with two nationally ranked teams.

(19) South Carolina Gamecocks (9-4) vs (23) Florida State Seminoles (9-4)

Friday, December 31st, 7:30 p.m. ET

The favorite: South Carolina -3

Over/Under: 54

South Carolina was hot and cold from a betting perspective for much of this season, largely because it didn’t have an identity. Was Steve Spurrier’s team a top contender or just a high-end gatekeeper for the real powerhouses? It turned out to be more of the latter. South Carolina beat Alabama but lost to Arkansas and Auburn.

Down the stretch, however, South Carolina found its groove. Before getting dominated in the SEC title game, the Gamecocks won three straight games and beat three straight sportsbook spreads. Overall, South Carolina is 7-6 ATS this season. Nine of its 13 games trended OVER the total, which isn’t surprising given all the talented SEC offenses they faced. Their games totalled 54.9 points on average.

Florida State seemed destined for a BCS Bowl early this season when it started 6-1 and went 5-2 ATS over that span. However, disappointing losses to N.C. State and North Carolina derailed the Seminoles’ hopes. They went 4-3 over their final seven games and 2-5 ATS during that stretch. FSU is 7-6 ATS on the year and the UNDER is 8-5 for their games.

Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks aren’t dominant in any one offensive area but pretty solid everywhere. They average 32 points a game; they have an efficient quarterback in Stephen Garcia leading the nation’s No. 47 passing attack; and they have a touchdown machine in Marcus Lattimore pacing the 55th-ranked rushing offense.

Defensively, South Carolina is Jekyll and Hyde. The Gamecocks are an outstanding seventh against the run but 107th against the pass. That’s what happens when you share a conference with Cameron Newton and Ryan Mallett.

Florida State’s offense is an underwhelming 63rd overall, perhaps because it battled injuries all season. Christian Ponder played through an elbow injury and Jermaine Thomas, part of the Seminoles’ multi-pronged rushing attack, is battling a knee injury.

Florida State’s 65th-ranked pass defense could be in tough against Garcia but Lattimore and the Gamecocks will have to work hard to penetrate Florida State’s 30th-ranked run defense (126.8 yards/game) and 24th-ranked scoring defense (19.8 points/game).

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