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Florida State vs. Duke: 3 key bets for Seminoles vs. Blue Devils

Predicting the over/under on total score, Jordan Travis rushing yards, and first quarter spread

Peyton Baker/Tomahawk Nation

Florida State dominated last Saturday, but unfortunately our picks did not follow suit. Saturday was our first winless week of the season, bringing the year total to 11/18. As Mike Norvell says, it is all about response; we plan on it this week.

Saturday night under the lights against a ranked opponent, Doak Cambell Stadium, will be rocking, and these picks will be ready for primetime when 7:30 rolls around.

Three picks. Three winners.

Here we go.

All lines are presented by DraftKings — as always, gamble at your own risk.

Total Score: O/U 49.5 points

Saturday night will be a dog fight. It does not matter who is playing at quarterback for Duke; they will try and hit the ‘Noles in the mouth for 60 minutes. Florida State, meanwhile, looks like boa constrictors on the defensive side, squeezing the life out of opponents and stymying momentum that could give other opponents life. The numbers back this up.

Since Kalen DeLoach’s fumble against Clemson, the Seminoles have given up 13 points in their last nine quarters. Florida State did not allow Virginia Tech or Syracuse to put up a score in the second half of either of their games. The defense looks to be rolling, and they practiced with great energy as Adam Fuller’s group continues to build on their performances. Meanwhile, the numbers on Duke are well known. Mike Elko’s expertise on this side of the ball has paid off, as the Blue Devils give up less than 10 points a game and rank second in the country in pass defense efficiency. They rotate multiple bodies along the defensive front, allowing them to get after the quarterback for four straight quarters, and play with one of the best sideline-to-sideline linebackers you have never heard of in Tre Freeman, who finished the NC State game last week with 15 tackles. This unit’s motivation will be through the roof as they know that a lights-out performance will be needed to win because of their quarterback situation on the other side.

I expect both defenses to play at their peak Saturday night, but that is not the only reason I love the under. Both of these teams want to run the ball and, to some extent, need to run the ball to create success. Duke averaged 6.5 yards a carry last week and had 30 runs compared to 12 passes. This followed the Notre Dame game when they had 13 more runs than passes. They will have no issue handing the ball off and shortening this game. The documentation on the FSU-run game is extensive. This part of the game struggled to start the year, but it looks back on track after its most consistent performance against the Orange. They want to slow the Duke pass rush and stay ahead of the chains on offense and will need to run the ball to accomplish both of these.

With two defenses playing at the top of their game and two offenses looking to shorten the game and take the air out of the ball, we could be in for a low-scoring affair on Saturday.

The pick: Under

Jordan Travis rushing yards: O/U 20.5

As I have written, any fan who believes Jordan Travis regressed from last season needs a new eyeglass prescription. However, I will meet fans halfway on one issue: running.

The numbers tell the story, but for whatever reason, #13 is not making the game-breaking runs like he sprinted for last year. Part of the reason may be his strides as a passer; the other may be from some of the knicks and knocks picked up throughout the season. But, the ground game is not the strong suit for the dual-threat quarterback to start the year. Travis averages just 2.8 yards a run despite being the second-leading leading ball-carrier on the Seminole squad. Since college football counts sack yardage for rushing yards, the Seminole signal-caller finished Saturday with a shocking total of -5 rushing yards.

On the flip side, Duke, like everything else to start the year, does well against running quarterbacks. Against NC State last week, MJ Morris ran the ball for 38 yards but only averaged 2.7 yards per carry. The same can be said for Sam Hartman, who finished his night with 23 yards, but 17 came on one rush. As I mentioned earlier, the NCAA counts sack yards with rushing totals. It's good, then, that Duke gets after the passer at a ferocious rate, recording six sacks in their last two games combined. This, combined with the fact that the FSU offensive line, while not a work in progress, is battling injuries up front and needs to be more consistent. Jordan Travis could carry the ‘Noles to a victory with his arm, but his legs may not be the story.

The pick: Under

First Quarter spread: FSU-3.5

At the beginning of the year, questions were being asked of the Seminoles if anyone slept the night before games. They were coming out with the groggiest starts, spotting opponents' touchdowns and time of possession before fans finished taking their seats. The bye week woke up a beast, as starting the game is now a strength, not a weakness.

Florida State continued their opening drive success last week, scoring on their first possession of the day against Syracuse and producing points on 5 out of 6 opening drives to start the year. Mike Norvell’s brilliance as a play-caller is on full display, and his scripts are a strength of his coaching ability. Meanwhile, although Duke is littered with veterans, their lone road game this year took place in East Hartford, Connecticut. Not exactly Tallahassee after a full day to get prepared for nighttime football. In their most challenging matchups of the year, they scored 6 points in the first half against Clemson and went down 13-0 to Notre Dame before battling back. Oh, and they might be starting a true freshman quarterback in a game that may decide who earns a berth in the ACC title. Duke is designed not to get blown out, and I think Saturday will be closer than most people believe. However, look for another fast start from the Seminoles, as they will be fired up in front of their home fans.

The pick: FSU -3.5

There you go, friends, three picks, three winners; everyone enjoy Saturday night!

Florida State Seminoles vs. Duke Blue Devils: How to watch


Saturday, October 11


7:30 p.m.






Seminoles Radio Network, SiriusXM RADIO FSU Broadcast: CH. 136 or 193

Florida State vs. Duke: Game notes

» Florida State hosts Duke inside a sold-out Doak Campbell Stadium as part of Homecoming activities on the FSU campus in a primetime matchup on ABC. Florida State, which is also celebrating its inaugural Seminole Heritage game, is playing on ABC for the sixth time in seven games this season.

» The Seminoles defeated Syracuse 41-3 last week to improve to 6-0 overall and 4-0 in the ACC. The overall and ACC records are FSU’s best start in each category since 2015. Florida State’s defense held the Orange to three points for the second straight game in the series, marking the sixth time in program history the Seminoles held an ACC opponent to three or fewer points in back-to-back games.

» Florida State is No. 4 in this week’s Associated Press poll. It is the seventh consecutive week FSU has been ranked in the top-5, the program’s longest streak since 2013-14 when Florida State was in the top-5 for 27 consecutive polls.

» The Seminoles extended their winning streak to 12 games, the longest active streak in the ACC and the 3rd-longest active streak in the country. During its streak, Florida State has outscored its opponents 506-219.

» FSU has scored at least 30 points in 12 straight games, the longest active streak in the ACC, the 2nd-longest active streak in the nation and the 2nd-longest streak in ACC history, trailing only FSU’s 17 games from 2012-14.

» Florida State is one of two teams ranked in the top-20 in red zone offense and red zone defense. FSU’s offense ranks 8th in the country having converted 95.8 percent of its red zone opportunities into points, and the defense has held opponents to points on 71.4 percent of red zone trips to rank 16th nationally.

» The Seminoles are one of seven teams nationally to have a receiver and a rusher with a three-touchdown game this season. Keon Coleman caught a career-high three scores vs. No. 5 LSU, and Trey Benson tied his single-game careerhigh with three rushing scores vs. Southern Miss. Coleman is one of 24 receivers nationally with a three-touchdown game this year, and Benson is one of 43 players with three rushing scores in a game.

» Florida State’s defense has faced 35 plays inside their 10-yard line this season and allowed just nine touchdowns. In the 45-24 win over No. 5 LSU, the Seminoles faced 10 snaps inside their own 5-yard line and allowed only two scores. On LSU’s first drive of the game, the Tigers had six plays inside the five-yard line, including four snaps from the 1-yard line, and the FSU defense forced a turnover on downs with a 13-yard sack on 4th-and-1. Syracuse did not have a snap inside the 10-yard line and took only one snap inside FSU’s 15-yard line. » The Seminoles have scored on 10 of their 12 opening drives of a half this season. In those half-opening drives, Florida State has scored seven touchdowns and three field goals for an average of 4.9 points per drive.

» Florida State made 10 tackles for loss while allowing 0 TFLs, including sacks, in its win at Boston College. It was the first time in recorded program history FSU did not allow a TFL against an FBS opponent and the first time nationally a team had 10 TFLs while allowing 0 against a P5 opponent since Missouri’s 2017 win over Florida. The only other time FSU did not allow a tackle for loss in a game was 2012 vs. FCS Murray State.

» FSU scored 31 points after halftime vs. No. 5 LSU, the most second-half points against a top-5 opponent in program history. It also was the most second-half points nationally against a top-5 opponent in a non-playoff game since September 26, 2020, when Kansas State scored 31 second-half points at No. 3 Oklahoma. That has only happened two other times since the beginning of the 2014 season, both in 2018, when Purdue scored 35 second-half points against No. 2 Ohio State and Ohio State scored 38 second-half points against No. 4 Michigan. The only other team to score at least 31 points in a game against a top-5 opponent this season is Texas’ 34-24 win over No. 3 Alabama.

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