Champs Sports Bowl Predictions: Notre Dame vs. Florida State Preview

Robert FerringoContributor IIIDecember 19, 2011

GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 26:  Coach Jimbo Fisher of the Florida State Seminoles directs play against the Florida Gators  November 26, 2011 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

The Champs Sports Bowl is overrated.

No. 25 Florida State will take on Notre Dame in the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl. The game kicks off at 5:30 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 29 in the Florida Citrus Bowl and features perhaps the two most overrated programs in college football over the last 10 years.

Notre Dame, which is the single most overrated entity in the sport, is just 2-6 against the spread in their last eight bowl games and is perpetually overrated by the general Irish-loving public. With a loss in this game, the Irish will likely finish the season unranked for the fifth straight year. 

Florida State isn’t far behind.

Each year the bobblehead media fawn over the Seminoles and predict a return to the glory years of the early 90s. FSU never delivers.

They have just two 10-win seasons in the last decade and haven’t been a real national player in longer than that. FSU has only finished in the top 20 one time in the last five years.

Now these two teams will clash in Florida in a game that looks better on the marquee than I’m sure it will be between the lines.

Florida State is a team that started the year in the top 10 and which and some people pegged as a dark-horse National Championship contender. But a three-game losing streak, started by a tough 23-13 home loss to Oklahoma in mid-September, really submarined FSU’s season.

That said, the Seminoles have won six of their last seven entering this game, with the lone loss coming by just one point to Virginia.

Quarterback E.J. Manuel has been banged-up for most of this season but he is healthy and ready to lead an offense that averaged 31.7 points per game despite gaining just 375.8 yards per game (No. 74 in the country). FSU will also lean on the country’s No. 6 total defense and No. 4 scoring defense.

Notre Dame rebounded from an 0-2 start to the year to win eight of their 10 remaining games. Their only losses have been closer-than-the-final-looks losses to USC and Stanford, and the Irish have both an offense (No. 34) and defense (No. 34) ranked in the top 35 in the country.

Head coach Brian Kelly has been under heavy scrutiny all season long for his handling of one of college football’s sacred-cow programs. However, he is an excellent tactician and will be looking to take advantage of extra prep time leading up to this game.

Kelly and his Irish, as always, will enter this game with something to prove.


2011 Champs Sports Bowl Odds

This line has held firm since it opened at Florida State -3.

The action is primarily coming down on the favorite, with 63 percent of all bets on the Seminoles. But the money obviously hasn’t been significant enough at most books to get them to move the game off of that key number.

Both teams are at -110 on the moneyline, according to Gambler's Palace.

The total for this game is set at 46.5. It has been bet down from 48.


2011 Champs Sports Bowl Betting Trends

The Fighting Irish are 7-2 against the spread (ATS) in their last nine games as an underdog.

Notre Dame is 2-6 ATS in their last eight bowl games.

The Fighting Irish are 1-4 ATS in their last five non-conference games.

Notre Dame is 1-5 ATS in their last six bowl games as an underdog.

The Seminoles are 6-0-1 ATS in their last seven bowl games.

Florida State is 9-1-1 ATS in their last 11 neutral-site games.

Seminoles are 5-1 ATS in their last six non-conference games.

Florida State is 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven games in December.

Seminoles are 4-1 ATS in their last five games as a favorite of 0.5-3.0.

Florida State is 5-2 ATS in their last seven games as a favorite.

Seminoles are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games overall.


2011 Champs Sports Bowl Predictions

It is never a bad idea to play against Notre Dame. This team has been a flop in games like this against more athletic and talented teams.

They struggled with South Florida and Michigan’s speed early in the season, and I haven’t seen anything out of this group to make me think they can play at a high level.

But it is also tough to trust Florida State.

They lost at the same Wake Forest team that Notre Dame beat and the Irish also won a very similar matchup last year when they took down Miami in the Sun Bowl as two-point favorites.

I think that both offenses will benefit from the extra preparation time and I don’t think that either defense is anything special. I can see this one playing differently than the oddsmakers have predicted, and their low total suggest and I think that this game will turn into a back-and-forth shootout in the second half.  


2011 Champs Sports Bowl Free Pick: Take ‘Over’ 46.5 Florida State vs. Notre Dame

Robert Ferringo is an NFL and college football handicapper and you can check him out here.