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Friday Night College Football Picks: How We’re Betting Florida State vs Louisville and Air Force vs Wyoming (Sept. 16)

Friday Night College Football Picks: How We’re Betting Florida State vs Louisville and Air Force vs Wyoming (Sept. 16) article feature image

Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Air Force Falcons flags.

There's something special about Friday Night Lights, and this Week 3 edition is no exception.

Tonight's college football slate features two games, and both just happen to be conference contests. So, Kody Malstrom and Keg stepped up to cover this beautiful Friday night slate.

We start in the Bluegrass State tonight as Louisville hosts Florida State in an ACC battle. Then, shortly after, we'll head to Laramie for a Mountain West matchup between Air Force and Wyoming.

Check out our breakdowns for both games below, along with updated betting odds and picks.

Friday Night College Football Picks

The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college football staff is targeting from today's slate of games. Click the team logos for one of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.

7:30 p.m. ET
Florida State -2
8 p.m. ET
Air Force -17
Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAF Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.

Florida State vs Louisville

Friday, Sept. 16
7:30 p.m. ET
Florida State -2

By Kody Malstrom

It's time for Friday Night Lights, and what better way to spend our time than watching a resurging Florida State squad against an improved Louisville team?

Before last week, Louisville looked like a dumpster after being dismantled by Syracuse. The offense still struggled against UCF, but it was the defense in the second half that looked like a whole new unit.

After shutting the Knights' high-powered offense down, it will be interesting to see if that same defense shows up against the Seminoles' run-heavy approach.

Will Florida State continue to find redemption from past seasons' failures? Or will Louisville's offense find life to give its defense much-needed help?

Let's find out.

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Florida State Seminoles

Putting the boneheaded mistakes aside, Florida State really impressed in its last game against LSU.

While its defense has yet to put together a complete game, the offense has looked revitalized. That was needed after struggling for consecutive seasons.

This run game has looked legit, albeit through only two games, including one against Duquesne. Now, it will look to give Louisville's defense fits.

Lead back Treshaun Ward doesn't have to do it himself as Florida State, has deployed a running back committee with Trey Benson and Lawrance Toafili dealing damage as well.

They will be poised for another big game against Louisville's near-dead last ranks in Defensive Line Yards and Rushing Success Rate.

Treshaun Ward averaged 5.71 yards before contact (per carry) on Saturday.

"8-ball, I’d say he’s very patient. I’m trying to learn how to be patient, so I’m actually learning from him. Because his patience is out this world, he reminds me of Le’veon Bell."

— Brendan Sonnone (@BSonnone) August 28, 2022

Much of FSU's rushing success is thanks to an offensive line that has ranked top-10 in Line Yards so far this season. But that unit's not without flaws. While it has generated a push in the run game, its pass protection has been weak and could spell trouble if it can't establish the run.

The defense has room to improve after finishing last season top-40 in Defensive Success Rate, Havoc and Finishing Drives. The unit also returned 95%, per TARP.

The Seminoles get a chance to turn things around against Louisville's offense, which has had to rely on Malik Cunningham extending plays with little help elsewhere.

Should the defense show up and the run game proves to be tough, this may be a long night for the Cardinals.

Louisville Cardinals

Talk about the definition of night and day in regard to this Louisville squad. First, it was a complete-game blunder against Syracuse before a stellar second half in the Bounce House at UCF.

While the offense has remained consistently bad, it's the defense that took a major leap in production in each game. The pass rush stepped up, taking away UCF's explosiveness through the air and shutting it out in the second half.

Although improved, this is still a unit with many flaws, and we cannot invest in it just because of one great half. The defense still struggles to stop the run as one of the worst rush defenses in the nation. It also hasn't shown the ability to get to the quarterback, relying on the secondary to make plays.

While Louisville's defense has shown improvement, the offense has been a disaster. Scoring only three touchdowns in two games, the offense has looked stagnant and has been unable to move the ball against poor defenses.

Cunningham can't do it all himself and has yet to even show up this season as a passer. He's thrown for 353 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions thus far and will need to find success through the air. If he doesn't, he'll continue to suffer through a one-dimensional run game.

Florida State vs Louisville Pick

When it comes to correcting early troubles, I have a lot more faith in Florida States' defense to figure it out with positional continuity and a track record of proven success.

Louisville's offense, meanwhile, has been a dumpster fire with the passing game nowhere to be found and simple schemes that allow defenses to shut down the run.

Worse yet for the Cardinals, this proves to be a matchup nightmare for their revitalized defense. Their weakness is stopping the run — something the Seminoles can exploit with a variety of weapons.

With a weak tackling unit and fewer opportunities for the offense to keep pace, this is just a poor matchup for the Cardinals with too many negative factors to overcome.

I grabbed Florida State on the open and would play this no higher than -3.

Pick: Florida State -2 ⋅ Play to -3

Air Force vs Wyoming

Friday, Sept. 16
8 p.m. ET
CBS Sports Network
Air Force -17

By Keg

The Falcons will look to keep the third-longest winning streak in the nation alive Friday night in Laramie when they take on the Wyoming Cowboys, a task that may prove easier said than done.

Air Force may be 2-0 to start the season — while leading the country in rushing — but there's just something about opening conference play at the Cowboys that is different.

Air Force hasn't won in Laramie since 2012 — posting an 0-3 record since — while also being 11-14-2 all-time. The Falcons are also 0-3 in their last three road openers, not to mention 2-9 in their previous 11 Mountain West openers.

However, Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said in a press conference on Monday that this is the best Air Force team he's seen in his nine years with the Cowboys. That's exactly what the Falcons need to be if they want to start 3-0 and win their Mountain West opener for the first time since 2016.

Air Force Falcons

The Falcons were one of the best teams in college football outside of the Power Five last year, and through two games this year, they seem to be even better.

As I mentioned previously, they lead the country in rushing, but what's even more impressive is the margin by which they lead.

Air Force averages 508.5 rush yards per game, with the next closest team being Minnesota (302 yards per game). The Falcons also rank second nationally with 7.7 yards per rush.

Many factors play into the Falcons' dominance on the ground, the two most prominent being their veteran playmakers, Haaziq Daniels and Brad Roberts.

The Falcons ended last year averaging 36 points and 476 yards of offense in their last three games. They are averaging 44.5 points per game and 567 yards of offense through two games this year.

Quarterback Haaziq Daniels, who had surgery in the offseason, picked up right where he left off last year.

Daniels isn't the best running QB in college football, and he isn't the best when it comes to passing either, but his ability to successfully manage the triple option and find success on the ground and through the air when forced to do so is what sets him apart.

Roberts was named Mountain West Player of the Week following the Falcons' 41-10 win over Colorado, and deservingly so. Roberts leads the Mountain West and ranks fifth in the country with 288 rushing yards on the season.

Defensively, the Falcons have allowed less than 21 points in both games so far this season.

Ranking first in Pass Down Success Rate Allowed and seventh in Defensive Havoc, they have given up just 230 rushing yards and 337 passing yards in two games.

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Wyoming Cowboys

Air Force — and its triple option — is an intimidating challenge for anyone, especially on a short week.

But there may be no one more prepared for it than Bohl.

Outside of the service academies, no current coach has more experience against Air Force than Bohl. He's the second-longest tenured Mountain West head coach behind only Troy Calhoun himself, and he knows the triple option well and how to prepare for it.

However, the Cowboys' ability to stop the run in Week 0 against Illinois and Chase Brown — who currently leads the NCAA in rushing yards — was significantly concerning.

Illinois racked up 258 rushing yards, with Brown going for 151 himself and two touchdowns.

If Wyoming doesn't step up in a big way, Air Force could literally run away with this one.

That isn't the only concern for Wyoming either. Offensive tackle Frank Crum is currently day-to-day after leaving the Northern Colorado game with an injury.

And while QB Andrew Peasley has completed more than 60% of his passes in the last two games, the Cowboys have had serious issues finishing drives.

Against Northern Colorado, they had to settle for a field goal four times and didn't pull away in the game until the fourth quarter.

Air Force ranks just 70th in Defensive Finishing Drives, but with how much Wyoming struggled against Northern Colorado, that may be all it needs.

Air Force vs Wyoming Pick

Bohl said it himself: this Air Force team is one of the best in the last 10 years, and potentially one of Calhoun's best in his career.

The first step in proving that will be ending the 10-year drought in Laramie.

Air Force is one of the best rushing teams in the nation, and while Wyoming was able to limit the rush in their meeting last year, Air Force is not a one-dimensional team. The Falcons have been so dominant on the ground that they have barely even attempted to throw.

Daniels has just 11 attempts so far this season — he threw for 1,184 yards last season with a completion percentage of 50%. If the Cowboys can limit the rush like they did last season, I have faith that Air Force can still find a way to win and cover with its passing game.

I have the Falcons at -17, and I wouldn't bet them any higher than that. If the number drifts above 17 for the full game, I would take the Falcons up to -12.5 for the first half.

Pick: Air Force -17 or Better

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