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FSU vs. Southern Miss: Independence Bowl staff predictions

The picks are in.

NCAA Football: Independence Bowl-North Carolina State vs Vanderbilt Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

For the final time in 2017, we assemble our braintrust to revive themselves from their post-holiday hangovers and pick an FSU game. We figured you could use a break from sleeping at your desk.


What a long, strange trip it has been for FSU this season. What started with such high hopes and promise ends with a .500 record and a newly-hired coach who was in the womb the last time this job was truly open.

As long as FSU stays focused, this should be another bowl victory. The Fighting Odells should be able to control both lines, and I expect Akers and Patrick to have a great day. Blackman should have a relatively clean jersey at the end, and FSU fans can finally put this season behind them and focus on the Era of the Willie.

FSU 38, Southern Miss 17

Juan Montalvo:

FSU 42, USM 27

Nice Total.

Curt Weiler:

I would be much more concerned about FSU in this game if Jimbo Fisher was still the coach. I think this team will play hard for Odell Haggins, as it did against ULM. It also doesn’t hurt that Willie Taggart has been watching closely this month at practice and will surely take diligent notes from Wednesday’s game.

The Seminoles are in control throughout and have the win locked up before the beginning of the fourth quarter.

FSU 34

USM 17

Dakota Moyer:

On the surface, this has all the potential to be a bowl game where one team doesn’t want to be there (Florida State), while the other team (Southern Miss) has motivation to beat an underachieving Power-5 squad.

But many factors indicate that the Seminoles won’t come out stagnant. For one, new head coach Willie Taggart seems to have imbued new life into the team, despite not coaching in the bowl game. The players also seem to have rallied around interim head coach Odell Haggins, a lifetime Seminole who has earned the respect of the administration and his team.

Despite losing Derwin James and Josh Sweat to draft preparations, I expect Florida State’s defense to contain a Southern Miss offense that ranked 59th in S&P+ this season. Look for young freshmen like Stanford Samuels III and Joshua Kaindoh to have strong performances as they build toward starting roles as sophomores.

On offense, the ’Noles should be able to move the ball well with Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick. The Golden Eagles actually had a Top-25 defense this year, per S&P+, but have not faced the caliber of athlete that Florida State possesses.

This game might be ugly at first, but I expect FSU to pull away late for a comfortable victory.

Florida State 37, Southern Miss 17


Happy Holidays everyone; ’Noles spread some holiday cheer with a victory over Southern Miss, avenging the 1989 Brett Favre led loss. Cam Akers breaks Dalvin Cook’s freshman rushing record sealing the victory with a late rushing TD.

FSU 27 Southern Miss 17


This game will be more frustrating than it should be. Odell will have the kids fired up and ready to play but this is Shreveport, two days after Christmas. It’s going to be cold with the ‘feel like’ temperature just above freezing. Gross. And there’s players skipping the game, or being sent home, or whatever. Just win this for Odell and keep the winning season streak alive for Taggart to continue next year.

FSU 30, Southern Miss 27

David Visser:

I don’t want to be in Shreveport. You don’t want to be in Shreveport. Hell, Shreveport doesn’t want to be in Shreveport. So you can guess that the FSU football players don’t want to be in Shreveport.

I’d have picked USM in this game six weeks ago. But the Seminoles are actually having a little fun again, and I think that a game that basically means nothing is just what they need. This is a glorified exhibition, so they may as well do what Taggart has been preaching since he took over in Tallahassee and have some fun. That bodes well for the side with the better athletes.

FSU 30, USM 24

Bud Elliott:

FSU 34, USM 27