By Zach Walker
#18 Houston Cougars vs. #9 Florida State Seminoles
Thursday – December 31 – 11:00 am CT
Georgia Dome – Atlanta, Georgia
Records Before the Game
Houston Cougars (12-1, 7-1 American)
Florida State Seminoles (10-2, 6-2 ACC)
How did these teams reach this Bowl?
Behind the dynamic play of Greg Ward Jr., the Cougars won the American conference, and somehow kept their coach on the hook through the sea of tasty job openings that opened up across the landscape. The Seminoles played very strong this season, and in their two losses, only had a 16 point difference in their games, from winning and losing, and one loss was to the number one team in the country, Clemson.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, if you want to win games in college football, get your team a Greg Ward type of quarterback. He’s explosive, elusive, and extremely skilled. Above 68 percent completion, 16 touchdowns versus five interceptions, then there’s his dominating ground game. 178 attempts, a 5.8 average, and 19 more scores. His target, DeMarcus Ayers, might declare for the draft, and that would be striking while the iron is hot, finishing the season with 89 catches for 1,140 yards and six touchdowns. The offense racked up 43 rushing touchdowns, 528 total points, and 305 total first downs. They force the ball back into their hands too. Forcing 20 fumbles, 13 recoveries, and 17 interceptions. Elandon Roberts plays like he is three players wide and Adrian McDonald is a hammer from the safety spot.
Florida State Seminoles
The ‘Noles ground game goes through the running back Dalvin Cook, the guy is a straight monster. Let’s call him six foot tall, 200ish pounds, and capable of crushing fans dreams. He’s toting the rock at a paralyzing 7.9 yards per carry. 18 scores, and 1,711 yards rushing, he’s the backbone of the Seminoles offense, which will not have Everett Golson, but rather Sean Maguire for this game. Maguire has played well in games this season, is not holding the team back in any way from the drop from Golson to Maguire. The Seminoles defense isn’t something that’s going to allow the Cougars to gain anything extra. DeMarcus Walker is going to probably going to lose some serious weight, chasing down Greg Ward, but if anyone can do it, it’s Walker, with an unreal stat line for the season, headlined by 10.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss.
Prediction: Houston 31 – Florida 28. I’ve seen these Cougars too many times to count them out.