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FSU vs. Houston: Staff predictions

One last group of picks for 2015. Here's how we think the Peach Bowl will go.

The FSU Marching Chiefs
The FSU Marching Chiefs
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Bud Elliott:

As always, this pick is available on the preview podcast.

David Visser:

Florida State outmans UH across the field, has faced better competition, and is quite familiar with the national stage -- the Seminoles' last four bowl trips, including this one, have been a BCS bowl, the National Championship, the College Football Playoff, and, now, a New Year's Six bowl. The 'Noles should win going away. Yet, if this iteration of FSU football had the same mindset as last year's team, I might be tempted to pick the Houston upset, or, at the very least, a close game. But this is a hungry Florida State team that really seems to want that total-wins record for its seniors.

Sean Maguire is playing for the inside track on the starting QB job in 2016 after the longest stretch for which he's been known to be FSU's QB1 -- ever. Couple that with a healthy Dalvin Cook, and I'm not sure how often Houston can stop the 'Noles. Defensively, I think the Cougars make some plays early, but the versatility of Derwin James and his ability to contain Greg Ward, Jr., around the line of scrimmage will hamper the UH assault. The Seminoles' deep DL rotation will factor largely as well. FSU 37, Houston 20.


Maybe my predicter-er is broken, but I don't see why FSU is only a seven-point favorite over Houston. I don't see a single position at which FSU is worse. Maybe a stalemate overall between FSU's OL vs. Houston's front six, or FSU LBs vs. HOU RBs. But that's it. I like Greg Ward Jr., but FSU has already shown it could contain Lamar Jackson. Cook will eat, Kermit will get into the open field, and James and Ramsey are going to send Houston players to the locker room early. FSU big, 38-17.


Houston fans may think their defense being the same size as BC matters, but it doesn't. 'Noles will roll on offense and are healthy enough on defense to slow down an explosive Hakeem Olajuwon who has embarrassed a long list of weak teams. Noles 38, Houston Rockets 20.


Though most preferred to take-in a more savory New Year's matchup, 'Nole fans would love to drive thru Atlanta with a sweet victory over the Cougars.

Houston is no fruit cup, and the 'Noles can't afford to waffle on Thursday.

Boasting the third best turnover margin in the FBS, the Cougars will look for strips, and FSU hopes Maguire's flicks have no picks.

Greg Ward, Jr. is a true dual-threat QB, make no bones about it: he grills opponents with 80 yards/game on the ground, and fries you for 200 yards through the air to his full tray of weapons.

After a tight first half, expect Dalvin to Cook up enough nuggets for a standing eight-count, as FSU TKOs the Cougs.

Fisher-Fil-A 33

HouJangles 20


I think FSU wins, but could struggle at times in this game. The time off, overconfidence, and OL could cause problems for the offense. I expect Houston to score a few times due to wrinkles and such, as they have a good offensive-minded coach. In the end, the athletes of Florida State win out and if Dalvin stays healthy, he sets a Peach Bowl rushing record (208 is the current record).

FSU 35 Houston 17


On the last day of 2015, FSU has a great opportunity to move into the new year with good momentum for the huge expectations that will usher in the 2016 season. My hope is that FSU makes it through the game with great effort and no injuries, first and foremost. Get playing time for the guys you expect to step up in 2016. A healthy dose of Dalvin, and utilize Izzo well. Also looking forward to the coaching matchup. I'm a huge fan of Tom Herman, enough to say that I'd want him at the top of the short list whenever Jumbo decides to move on. Should be a fun appetizer to the Playoff main course. I'll take the beloved 'Noles in a 31-21 victory.

Andrew Miller:

FSU 31

Houston 24

I think it will be at lot closer than people think, and FSU needs Dalvin Cook to lead the offense once again. The Houston offense is a very high octane one and can put up points like it's no one's business. The 'Noles could lose this game even if only a small amount of miscues happen. If FSU keeps its defensive productivity to the standard that it was during the regular season, they should be able to contain the Cougar offense. It's just a matter of how much they can limit it.


I'm concerned about the start of this game, and I have a bad feeling that it will be close for the first half, and we could even go into halftime trailing. I feel this way due to the long layoff, the distractions for players who are dealing with leaving, and the bowl week celebrations, all contributing to an early lack of focus.

I do expect that our talent advantage and our quality of depth will allow us take over in the second half, when we will dominate and the rout will be on.

I'm also hoping the players behave this week and that there are no more last-minute surprises and no one is disciplined, ineligible, or sent home.

FSU 45 - Cougies 17


Houston is a cute story. Their fans are sweet for thinking they have a chance.

On offense: Cook runs for 250. Then, Houston will try to sell out against the run and SMAG will throw for 300. Put me down for a long Kermit TD catch, Harrison to have a breakout game, and Tate to get a red-zone jump-ball TD.

On defense: The FSU DL is gonna destroy Houston. Derwin James will once again be deployed as the murder weapon. The duo of JRam and 'Quez will suffocate the Houston WRs. Look for Terrance Smith to have a huge game. Will probably be the healthiest he has been all season. DWalk and Sweat have fun with it and tally five combined sacks.

FSU 45 UH 17

Cougars are a cute story though. Really cute.

Matt Minnick:

The garnet on garnet is my second favorite uniform combo (only behind the white on garnet combo that's not worn nearly enough) and the ‘Noles play as sharp as they look. Cook jumpstarts his 2016 Heisman campaign with 250 yards and three TDs, and the defense plays lights out after giving up one early busted play.

FSU moves to within 9 games of tying up the series with the Cougars in blowout fashion, 34-13.

Curt Weiler:

In many ways, I believe this game will play out similarly to the Northern Illinois game from 2012. Although the Cougars have undeniable talent, they have not seen any teams with the Seminoles' size, speed, or number of blue-chip recruits this year.

To a certain extent, Greg Ward, Jr. and the Houston offense will be able to move the ball. However, the FSU defense will control his mobility and shorten drives with its athleticism. On the other side of the ball, Dalvin Cook and Sean Maguire will lead the offense to 500+ yards of offense.

Florida State will gradually wear Houston down, leading by three after one quarter, 10 at half, and winning comfortably, 41-17.

Josh Pick:

This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Florida State. Instead, the 'Noles are playing in a New Year's Six bowl game. For a "no-name" team, Tom Herman's Houston Cougars are tough, but FSU couldn't ask for a much better matchup.

Expect Jimbo Fisher to continue to lean on Dalvin Cook when the Noles have the ball. I assume Todd Orlando will commit many defenders in an effort to stop the best RB in college football. This could mean many shorter runs, but it could also mean that if DC4 gets to the second level, he's gone. The sophomore from Miami should be as close to 100% as he has been since that nasty afternoon in Winston-Salem. As long as the offense doesn't commit multiple turnovers, they should be able to score on the Cougars.

Defensively, I'd look for Charles Kelly, who started the year on the FSU fanbase hot-seat (#FireKelly), to trust his cornerbacks, while using all-everything freshman safety Derwin James to spy Houston's ultra-athletic QB, Greg Ward, Jr. The Seminoles should have the advantage on this side of the ball, too.

As long as Florida State doesn't beat themselves (I don't think they will, as Jimbo Fisher sports a 4-1 record in bowl games), they'll leave Atlanta victorious on New Year's Eve.

FSU rolls over Houston 34-20.

Michael Rogner:

My record has been terrible this year. After being the only Tomahawk Nation staff member to correctly predict 33-straight regular season games, I'm now 3-2 over the past five. This has significantly impacted my confidence. FSU will win, but I feel like much more conservative than in past games, so for the score I'll go with FSU: 57 - whatever bum we're playing: 10.