The top Saturday night game (8:00pm ET) of the 2014 college football season’s opening weekend features the top-ranked and defending (and final) BCS National Champions the Florida St. Seminoles of the Atlantic Coast Conference traveling to Cowboys Stadium Arlington, TX to take on the host Oklahoma St. Cowboys of the Big 12. FSU of course went 14-0 last season and rolled to the title, while Oklahoma St. finished 10-3highlighted by a 49-17 pounding of Big 12 Champion Baylor. They lost their final two games however to in-state rival Oklahoma (33-24) and Missouri (41-31) in the Cotton Bowl.
On offense top-ranked Seminoles return the reigning Heisman Trophy winner in quarterback Jameis Winston who threw for 4,057 yards with 40 TDs and 10 INTs last year in leading the ‘Noles to a 14-0 record and a 34-31 win over Auburn in the National Championship Game. Running back Karlos Williams is untested but looks like a potential breakout performer who is expected to bring an explosive presence to the FSU offense. The entire offensive line is from the senior class, and protecting Winston will be one of FSU’s greatest strengths. Winston’s top targets will be receivers Rashad Greene, Christian Green and tight end Nick O’Leary. They will attempt to fill the void left by last year’s top wide out Kelvin Benjamin who was take in the first round of the NFL draft. Defensive end Mario Edwards returns to lead a potentially dominating line for FSU.
Oklahoma St. returns the fewest starters of any team in the Big 12, but they appear to have solved their issue at quarterback by settling on J.W. Walsh a part-time starter over the last two seasons, who has completed 62.9% of his passes with a pass efficiency rating of 147.9 (2nd among returning Big 12 QBs to Baylor’s Bryce Petty) while compiling a 6-2 record in 8 starts. OSU returns 12 starters, but two of those are kickers and they expect to play as many as 8 freshman in this game. Wide receivers Jhajuan Seales and Austin Hays figure to be key targets for Walsh, and senior running back Desmond Roland returns as well.
Florida St. vs. Oklahoma St. Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Florida St. Seminoles -17.5
@Oklahoma St. Cowboys +17.5
Over 63 (-110)
Under 63 (-110)
Betting odds taken from BetOnline.AG
Florida St. vs. Oklahoma St. Pick:
OSU head coach Mike Gundy has 15 wins over top 25 teams during his 9 season at the helm in Stillwater. OSU is 6-0 in their last 6 openers, and 9-1 in their last 10 season openers. The Cowboys are 9-5 in their last 14 games against ranked opponents, 15-2 in their last 17 non-conference games and 11-2 in their last 13 games played in the state of Texas. Florida St. holds a 3-1 advantage in the all-time series with Oklahoma State. Since 2008 under Gundy OSU has beaten: number 2 Missouri 28-23 in 2008, number 8 Texas A&M 3029 in 2011, number 4 Stanford 41-38 in the 2011 Fiesta Bowl and number 3 Baylor 49-17 last year. FSU has won 16 games in a row dating back to the 2012 season.
This game will have an electric atmosphere with the combination of FSU’s star power, the setting in Jerry world at Cowboys Stadium and the ESPN Gameday crew covering the game. The Cowboys should not be intimidated despite their underdog status and the fact that they return so few experienced players. They should be quite comfortable playing in Texas given that they feature 69 Texans on their roster, the most of any team located outside of the state. Expect OSU to come out strong in front of a supportive crowd under the bright lights and give a strong effort against the ‘Noles and give them more of a game than most experts are expecting, but in the end FSU will just be too strong for the inexperienced Cowboys, expect Winston and his veteran offense to pick apart and inexperienced OSU secondary and pull away in the second half. Take Florida State to cover in this one.