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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, August 30, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Florida State has to battle one of the most serious cases of letdown potential we’ve ever seen here in the 2014 season. They open Saturday Night against respected Oklahoma State in a virtual season opening “bowl” at the Dallas Cowboys home cathedral. Amazingly…Florida State is a whopping 19-point favorite…and that’s one of the lowest spreads they’ll have all season!

How can you get fired up for a new season, when:

*You’re the defending National Champions

*You’re still being led by last year’s Heisman Trophy winner

*You return a lot of NFL caliber talent

*The media keeps saying you’re unbeatable

*Las Vegas keeps saying you’re unbeatable

*You may not have a pointspread until December that’s less than 17 points!

It’s been years since we’ve had a team this LOADED in talent entering a season that just read SO MANY press clippings about how fantastic they are right after they’ve won a national championship. How can you have an “us against the world” mentality when the reality is “the world keeps telling us we can win without trying hard?”

Handicappers will get their first look at any possible ramifications from off-field distractions in this national TV game Saturday Night (8 p.m. on ABC). Let’s review the key data from our summer series of conference previews for both teams…



Record: 14-0 (beat Auburn 34-31 for the National Championship)

Rankings: 6 on offense, 3 on defense

Returning Starters: 7 on offense, 6 on defense

Quarterback: Jameis Winston (Sophomore, Heisman Trophy Winner)

At least it’s not 9 or 10 returning starters on each side of the ball. And, Auburn showed last year that elite teams can hang with FSU, and beat them if they maintain composure in the fourth quarter. Maybe the Seminoles won’t run into any elite teams until the newly expanded playoff structure. Will they be battle tested if they have to face the Pac 12 champ and/or the SEC champ?



Record: 10-3 (lost to Missouri 41-31 in the Cotton Bowl)

Rankings: 37 on offense, 52 on defense

Returning Starters: 4 on offense, 4 on defense

Quarterback: J.W. Walsh (Junior, some experience)

Hey, our first chance to talk about Oklahoma State! The reason this preview has been all about FSU so far is that the Cowboys may be in some trouble this season. They lacked consistency last year even on their way to a double digit victory total. This team has been hurt by graduation. You can see that only four starters return on each side of the ball. Starting quarterback Walsh was part of the inconsistency in 2013 until he was benched at midseason. He wasn’t on the field when Okie State played its best games against Baylor, Texas, and Texas Tech.

Conveniently, we have a link between last year’s bowl opponents for these two teams. You’ll recall that Auburn beat Missouri in the SEC Championship game 59-42.

*FSU was 3 points better than Auburn in the title tilt

*OSU was 10 points worse than Missouri in the Cotton Bowl

You can’t base a game projection on such a small sample size, particularly in college football, and particularly across a summer break. But, FSU graded out 30 points better in that tiny sampling, AND has more returning starters with a much superior quarterback. And, THAT’S why Vegas has this game as a projected blowout.


Las Vegas Line: Florida State by 19, total of 63


FSU has the horses to do what they want to. Will they have the focus, intensity, and killer instinct to run away and hide on the scoreboard? JIM HURLEY has some ideas about that. But, he has A LOT of ideas about A LOT OF SATURDAY GAMES! This one may or may not make the final ticket because there are so many Saturday matchups to choose from. You can always purchase game day BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about seasonal packages, or combination packages for football and baseball, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155.

College football TV previews continue tomorrow and Labor Day in the NOTEBOOK, before we wrap up NFL preparation with a look at win total projections. Here’s the upcoming schedule on these pages….

Sunday: College Football TV Preview…Utah State at Tennessee

Labor Day: College Football TV Preview…Miami at Louisville

Tuesday: Tuesday: Final Look at AFC Market Estimates for Team Victories

Wednesday: Final Look at NFC Market Estimates for Team Victories

Thursday: NFL TV Preview…Green Bay at Seattle (pro season begins!)

Florida State is the defending National Champion, and may have so much talent that a repeat is inevitable. That’s far from a sure thing in this sport. But, JIM HURLEY is a sure thing. He’s been the PERENNIAL defending WORLD CHAMPION of sports handicapping for decades. Don’t make a move in Saturday college football until you hear what JIM HURLEY has to say!

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