LSU vs Florida State Predictions & Picks: Our Bettors Debate Sunday’s College Football Spread (Sept. 4)

LSU vs Florida State Predictions & Picks: Our Bettors Debate Sunday’s College Football Spread (Sept. 4) article feature image

Don Juan Moore/Getty Images. Pictured: A Florida State football helmet.

LSU vs Florida State Odds

LSU Odds
-110 / -110
Florida State Odds
-110 / -110
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Why You Should Bet Florida State

By Mike Ianniello

Mike Norvell was one of the coaches tasked with the incredible disadvantage of taking over a new team during the 2020 COVID-19 season. With limited practices, social distancing, quarantining, and unprecedented uncertainty, it’s no surprise most new coaches struggled.

Twenty-four new coaches were hired during 2020, and they went a combined 86-107. Only nine finished with a winning record, so it’s hard to hold that year against him. Last season, Florida State improved to 5-7 and realistically was good enough to earn a bowl bid.

Norvell took a risk nobody can really blame him for — giving transfer McKenzie Milton a chance after returning from injury. However, the great story yielded poor results. Florida State went 0-4 in Milton’s starts.

The Seminoles were 5-3 with Jordan Travis as the starter, with the defeats being a three-point loss to Notre Dame, a 10-point loss at Clemson and a three-point loss at Florida.

Travis improved in almost every statistic, completing 63% of his passes and throwing 15 touchdowns and six interceptions. The electric runner also added 535 yards on the ground and seven rushing scores.

Now, Travis has a full offseason to work with the starters knowing he is the guy.

Leading rusher Jashaun Corbin left early for the NFL but electric back Treshaun Ward is back after averaging 6.4 yards per carry as a freshman. He’s an excellent pass-catcher and gives Travis a great safety blanket.

I’m not going to put too much stock into the Noles’ opener against Duquesne, but Ward exploded for 127 yards and two touchdowns on just 14 attempts against the Dukes. FSU, as a team, had 406 yards and six touchdowns on the ground in its Week 0 win.

Ward won’t be the only weapon bac,k as Florida State returns six of its top seven pass-catchers, led by leading receiver Ontaria Wilson and tight end Camren McDonald. This offense should have depth and a good blend of speed and size.

This offense greatly improved throughout the season under Travis, who took a big step forward last season. Finally, with some quarterback stability, this offense should improve with its highlight-reel QB.


Why You Should Bet LSU

By Tanner McGrath

Ed Orgeron is a good head coach, in my opinion. He was a player’s coach who led an uber-talented 2019 Tigers squad to a dominant undefeated season and a National Championship.

But it’s an understatement to say that Brian Kelly will be better with the Xs and Os.

I’ll admit the Tigers have a low floor. There’s not a lot of returning production, and quarterback Jayden Daniels was nothing special at Arizona State.

But the ceiling is infinitely high.

Kelly brings in the nation’s No. 7 recruiting class, and there’s nowhere to go but up after last season’s performance. The offensive line can only improve. Daniels can only improve, and LSU brings back the top five wideouts from last year, including Kayshon Boutte, who led the team in receiving despite missing seven games.

The Tigers bring back three of their top four tacklers, and they have eight defensive backs with starting experience, including the transfers. Someone is going to rush for 1000 yards again.

And while this group is in flux, they have Kelly leading them.

Is Kelly scared of Mike Norvell and Florida State? They won only five games last season and went 4-4 in the ACC. They return production and have a higher floor than LSU, but their ceiling is hard capped underneath the Mike Norvell-Jordan Travis regime.

I’m buying into the Kelly potential. The public will bet Florida State because of the returning production, but the sharp play is on Kelly’s Tigers winning their season opener.

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Seminoles Refutation

Ianniello: Jayden Daniels can only improve? Has a player ever improved going from the Pac-12 to the SEC? In three seasons as the starter at Arizona State, Daniels' QB rating, yards per attempt, and touchdown-to-interception ratio have all gotten worse.

After 17 touchdown passes with just two interceptions as a true freshman, he chucked up 10 touchdowns and 10 picks last season.

The offensive line can only improve? It returns exactly zero starters from last season.

Kayshon Boutte is nasty;I won’t deny that. But he missed the final seven games with a seriously broken ankle. It didn’t heal properly, and he needed another surgery this offseason and missed the entire spring. No team will have an easier task at slowing Boutte down than the team facing him in his first game back after snapping his ankle.

Saying th Tigers bring back three of their top four tacklers is a little misleading. They bring back three of their top seven leading tacklers for a defense that finished 66th in Success Rate.

Who is going to rush for 1,000 yards this year? Because last season, Tyrion Davis-Price managed just 1,003 yards before being drafted in the third round.

John Emery Jr. has just 566 total yards in two years and missed all last season after being deemed academically ineligible. He’s suspended for the first two games, so Florida State doesn’t have to deal with him anyway.

Noah Cain transferred from Penn State after totaling just 350 yards on 106 carries. He struggled to earn carries on a team that was desperate to find any sort of rushing attack, but sure, let’s trust him to tear up a defense that ranked 30th in yards per carry last season.

Tanner is pretty confident in a lot of assumptions that, frankly, don’t have any merit. It’s easy to get excited about a team with a shiny new coach to put all your hope in.

But the facts are that there’s just way more unknown with this Tigers team and a lot of questions left to be answered.

Tigers Refutation

McGrath: Mike seems pretty damn high on offensive improvement from a team that finished 89th in Success Rate last season and 114th in Havoc Allowed. It couldn’t get out of standard downs (46% Success, 96th nationally), and Jordan Travis was only moderately better in passing downs.

LSU had plenty of issues last season. But it finished 66th in Success Rate overall, ranked top-50 in Havoc and was solid in standard D=downs (.03 PPA, 19th; 46% Success Rate, 48th).

Again, after a horrendous 2021, the Tigers can only improve with Brian Kelly calling the shots. They picked up impact transfers at all three levels, including defensive end Mekhi Wingo (Mizzou), linebacker Greg Brooks (Arkansas), plus defensive backs Joe Foucha (Arkansas), Jarrick Bernard-Converse (Oklahoma State) and Sevyn Banks (Ohio State).

Again, the turnover is tough. But the potential for this Kelly-led defense — and the offense — is high. Why is Mike so confident an average ACC offense can waltz in and overwhelm an SEC defense?

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Seminoles Rebuttal

Ianniello: Yes, I am confident this offense will improve in a full season with Travis under center.

But the defense was already good. The Noles defense finished 2021 26th in the country in Success Rate and 29th in points per opportunity. They were especially stout against the run.

For all of the turnover and questions for LSU, Florida State brings back a whopping 95% of its returning production on defense, the fourth-most in the country. Overall, this team ranks eighth in the country in TARP.

Jermaine Johnson was the only big loss for this defense, but it brought in FCS star Jared Verse from Albany to help replace that pass rush. On the back end, Jammie Robinson is an excellent tackler and leads a secondary that returns every interception.

Collin Wilson always talks about Success Rate, explosiveness, Finishing Drives and Havoc as the biggest indicators of covering a spread. Florida State’s defense ranked top-30 in three of those four categories on defense, while LSU’s offense ranked outside of the top 50 in all of those metrics.

So, even if the average ACC offense doesn’t overwhelm an SEC defense, a below-average SEC offense definitely isn’t going to overwhelm this elite defense.

Tigers Rebuttal

McGrath: Yes, I think Daniels does improve with this LSU head coaching staff, rather than wasting away at Arizona State.

While the team has turnover, the offensive line has 10 players with starting experience. The defense brings back eight with starting experience in the secondary and should remain healthier throughout the season.

Nobody has emerged yet, but Kelly has four highly-touted running backs on this roster, including two four-star prospects in Noah Cain and Armoni Goodwin – someone from that group is going to step up.

Besides, how hard is it going to be to beat an ACC defense? The Seminoles lost their two leading pass rushers in Jermaine Johnson and Keir Thomas, who combined for 18.5 of the team’s 33 sacks, and will be depending on Jared Verse from Albany to replace that production.

The secondary seems to be the strength of the Florida State defense, but the Noles finished just 54th in Success Rate and 87th in Predicted Points Added against the pass. Plus, they were 120th in explosive plays allowed.

Closing Arguments

Our Action Network Power Ratings have these teams dead even on a neutral site. Obviously, the Superdome will be mostly LSU fans, but is that worth over a field goal?

We know Jordan Travis took a big step forward last season, and the Noles were much better with him under center. We know this defense was terrific. We know they return most of their production from last season.

We have no idea what LSU will be.

We have no idea how quickly it’ll adjust to Brian Kelly’s system. We don’t even know who its quarterback will be.

Take the points with Florida State in Year 3 under Mike Norvell.

One of my favorite angles in this game is from Stuckey’s recent article, talking about how teams making their debut against a team that played last week fare against the spread.

FBS teams making their season opener against an opponent that already played are 50-29 ATS since 2005, covering at a 63.3% clip.

Sure, there’s not too much to glean on film from FSU’s 40-point blowout over Duquesne, but this is Kelly.

If anyone is going to take full advantage of this situation, it’s him. Plus, the team is just better rested.

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