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Florida State v. Alabama: How is Jimbo Fisher as an underdog coach?

Can FSU upset Alabama? Jimbo Fisher’s history says maybe.

Capitol One Orange Bowl - Florida State v Michigan Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Update: Florida State is still an underdog of 7 points. The Over/Under is 50 or 50.5 at most sportsbooks.


Because of how well Florida State recruits, is has the more talented players in most of its games. And for that reason, Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles are rarely underdogs on the Vegas line.

But the Alabama game is different. Alabama out-recruits Florida State by a significant margin, and the Tide have arguably the best coach of all time in Nick Saban. Thus, it’s not surprising that they are favored by roughly a touchdown.

How well do Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles perform in the underdog role? It’s tough to say, because the data is limited. Let’s review it.

In 2010, Florida State was a 7-point underdog at Oklahoma and lost by 30, 47-17. It beat Miami 45-17 as a 5.5-point underdog, and then lost to Virginia Tech 44-33, as an underdog of 4.5 points. It upset South Carolina, 26-17, as a short 2-point underdog.

In 2011, Fisher’s Seminoles lost to Clemson, 35-30, as a 2.5-point underdog, and to Oklahoma, 23-12, as a 3.5-point underdog, failing to cover in either game.

In 2014, FSU was a 7.5-point underdog and was crushed by Oregon, 59-20.

In 2015, FSU lost to Clemson as a 12.5-point underdog, 23-13, but did cover the line.

In 2016, FSU was blown out by Louisville, 63-20, as a 2-point underdog. It covered the 4.5 points against Clemson in a 37-34 loss, upset Miami as a 1.5-point underdog, and outright upset Michigan as a 7-point underdog, 33-32 in the Orange Bowl.

What can we take away from this?

Fisher is 4-8 as an underdog, but 6-6 against the spread. More often than not, if Vegas picks FSU to lose, it loses, especially when FSU is an underdog of a touchdown or more (1-3), but again, the sample set is limited.

Also, pretty much all of the times Florida State has been blown out under Jimbo Fisher have been in the underdog role, though obviously, not as major underdogs, since FSU has never been an underdog of more than 12.5 points under Fisher.

In five of the eight straight up losses, Jimbo Fisher’s offense failed to show up, scoring 17, 12, 20, 13, and 20 points. Thrice it has scored between 30-34 points, and Fisher’s Seminoles have never scored more than 34 points in a loss as an underdog.

The projected score in Vegas right now, given the line, and over/under of 49 is 28-21. Fisher’s Seminoles are 16-11 when they fail to reach 28 points in a game.

There simply aren’t enough games to conclusively establish that Fisher is good/bad/neutral as a coach in the underdog role.

Line data via