College Football Picks — FSU Getting Lots of Points at Home vs. North Carolina

Yes, the mighty have fallen. The Florida State Seminoles are going to have to do some real soul-searching, because they have not been able to find answers on either side of the ball. Consecutive losses to Miami and Notre Dame, along with life-and-death against Jacksonville State (no, that’s not even in Florida) have not been a morale booster.

Now FSU has to play a team that had 399 yards on the ground last week. The North Carolina Tar Heels are undergoing a revival under Mack Brown, and they have one of the better quarterbacks in the nation. Can Florida State compete?

That’s one of the questions that maybe can be answered in Saturday night’s action.

NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS at FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES, 7:30 PM ET

BetAnySports Line: North Carolina -13.5, Total 64.5

North Carolina erupted for 666 total yards and came one yard shy of 400 on the ground in what was a real bonanza against an opponent that was supposed to be a national power. And now they would have to guard against a letdown against Florida State. Imagine that; imagine Bobby Bowden, who our prayers are with, having to hear that. But the fact is, these days the ‘Noles are pretty much defenseless, allowing over 500 yards per game, which places them fifth up from the bottom among the teams who are playing right now. You’d like to see a team that could at least hold its own at the line of scrimmage against an opponent who just ran for 399 yards, but the Seminoles are just 68th in Adjusted Line yards on the defensive end, with not a whole heck of a lot of pressure on the passer either, which isn’t bad news for Sam Howell, who’s thrown for 9.4 yards per attempt. You pretty much pick your poison against UNC, and the truth is, the whole thing is rather poisonous.

It is true that the Tar Heel defense might have a tendency to spring a leak here or there, the question must be asked about how much Florida State could exploit any perceived weaknesses, as things have been choppy for incoming coach Mike Norvell. James Blackmon did not seem a good fit for his system, so eventually Norvell turned to more of a dual threat type in Jordan Travis, who doesn’t have much in the way of dynamic playmakers around him, especially now with wide receiver Tamorrion Terry having been lost to a knee injury.

Yet you can’t ignore that Travis has brought a little zip to the offense. In particular, he has put the team in better position by improving what they’ve done on first down. That is actually an understatement; prior to him taking over, they had averaged 3.4 yards on first down. Since he’s been installed, they have averaged 7.5 yards. And after no plays of 30 or more yards against either Georgia Tech or Miami, they have seven in the last two games. And that is called “making a difference,” which is encouraging for the FSU backers who are short on patience right now.

Mind you, some of Travis’ numbers came against Jacksonville State, which is an FCS school. But some of them also came against top-ten Notre Dame.

We want to be careful not to suggest the ‘Noles can spring the upset here. But they might move the ball more than otherwise, and North Carolina looks like a team that doesn’t mind going into “run it up” mode if they get the opportunity. We’ll watch this one sail OVER the total.

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