In nearly every game for the past 2 years FSU has booted it’s first kickoff through the end zone to see how teams set their return and then kicked it high and just short of the goal line to allow its superior athletes to tee off on returners and pin them behind the 25. It’s been a good strategy and has served FSU well but is it the best idea against a very good Oregon return unit? On one hand pinning Oregon deep does force the Ducks to eat up more yards but on the other a big return isn’t likely to be that deadly since Oregon can and will eat up those yards with its offense.

Oregon fields a two headed kicking unit giving both Matt Wogan and Aidan Schneider opportunities to net the Ducks 3 points. Wogan is used more on kicks inside of 30 yards with Schneider getting the call in longer situations. Neither is used much as the Ducks have a proliferate offense and are not shy of going for it on 4th down. Kicker Ian Wheeler isn’t great but doesn’t have to be as he isn’t used much for the same reason.

While FSU fields one of the best kickers in the country fans hope to keep Roberto Aguayo on the bench as field goals will likely be as good as a stop against Oregon. The same can be said for the improving Cason Beatty.

Prediction

I keep going back and forth on this one. Oregon is the higher seed and they’ve done what they are supposed to do minus 1 game in which they failed to field an offensive line. The Ducks are very impressive and is certainly the best team FSU has faced this year. However, there are many match ups FSU can exploit to pull off the upset. I feel this game will come down to how healthy key players such as Terrance Smith, Nile Lawerence-Stample and Hronis Grasu (Oregon center) are and if FSU can start strong, which it really hasn’t all year.

Florida State: 45 Oregon 42

Bud: Florida State 41, Oregon 37

Staff Predictions

jmnpb996: FSU 48, Oregon 41

Ducks move the ball well in green area, Noles tighten up in red area. Jameis and the offense come out firing on all cylinders and don’t stop. Many with FSU +240 or better smile.

FSUed: Have spent the last two weeks trying to figure out where my usual pessimism went (picked FSU to lose to UF, usually have the Noles under the spread). Actually, I am currently bathed in irrational optimism for this game that is a little scary. Yet, this team is healthier than it has ever been, it matches up well with Oregon and has better athletes. Lot of nice #softfactors, too: Heisman curse; chip on underdog Noles’ shoulder; return to hallowed Rose Bowl ground, etc. Bottom line: The Noles make a huge statement and set up a dream matchup with Alabama. FSU 48, Oregon 31.

Dustin Tackett: It all comes down to which defense can come up with a few stops, because both offenses will score, and I feel like FSU’s D is more capable of doing that.

The Noles were sharp during the week leading up to Christmas, and I can only assume they’ve continued that trend this week, especially with some weight being lifted off the shoulders.

I like FSU to come out just as sharp Jan. 1 and punch their return ticket to Dallas.

38-31 FSU.

ricobert1: Not sure I have anything to add to the awesome analysis above. But I think we’re better than Oregon. I don’t expect NLS to be a difference-maker, but he should keep Derrick Mitchell fresh. If Terrance Smith has two wheels in this game, I’m very confident we can hold them in the 30s. If not, we may have to score 42+. Having said that, give me the Noles 41-37.

NTAT: I just can’t pick against this team. Distractions in the rear view and glory ahead, the Noles’ streak turns 30 with no hint of mid-life crisis. Winston decimates a hurting Oregon secondary and O’Leary and Greene each find the end zone. Add in another 100 yard game for Cook and 3 FGs for Aguayo, and you have a 37-31 win. Bring on Bama!

FSUUvaFan: FSU 48 Oregon 45.  Winston shines and the defense plays poorly in first half but finds enough stops in the second for us to break through again.

Kyle Griffis: Amongst all the naysayers and all the disrespect, the sole fact remains that Jameis Winston and the Florida State Seminoles haven’t lost a game since December 2012. This team simply doesn’t know how to lose. The ‘Noles are healthier than they have been since Week 1 of the season. On top of that, they’re hungry. They’ve had to listen to how they are 9-point underdogs for over a month. They’ve had to endure constant agitation from the media about how they’re the “bad guys.” They’ve had to listen to how they’re “just lucky to get to face Oregon.” Yet in the end, the only things that matter are facts, which are mutually exclusive of narrative and spin. Fact: FSU may not have faced an offense quite like Oregon’s all year, but Mariota certainly hasn’t faced a defense like FSU’s all year, either. Fact: On the other side of the ball, Oregon will be without it’s top cornerback, but even if Ekpre-Olomu was playing, FSU has faced tougher defenses on numerous occasions this year. Fact: FSU possesses advantages at many key positions, particularly in the trenches (on both sides of the ball). They also possess soft advantages like the Heisman curse, experience playing in a games of big magnitude, experience in playing in close games, returning to the magical Rose Bowl, Jimbo’s undefeated bowl record at FSU, Jameis finally being able to play with a clear mind, the extra TV bowl game timeouts, havng James Franklin III play the role of Mariota in practice, etc., etc., etc. We also can’t forget that Jameis plays clutch when his team needs it most. I’m not sure if the same can consistently be said for Mariota. This will be a high scoring game, and Oregon will score often, both through the air and on the ground, but frankly I like FSU’s defense’s odds against Oregon’s offense more than I like Oregon’s defense’s chances to slow Jameis & Co. for 4 quarters. I expect a quick start from Oregon, but in the end, I’ll take yet another stressful second half comeback for the bad guys to make it 30 straight and disappoint all the haters once again. ‘Noles 52, Ducks 41.

TimScribble: I’ll be that guy. If FSU’s trend of slow starts continue, this could be the team that they cannot come back against. Oregon is the type of team that won’t ease off if it gets up by a few TDs. I think FSU will score and I think Oregon will score. It’s a matter of when FSU’s defense figures it out, as they have almost every game. I think they’ll figure out a drive or two short which allows Oregon to stay ahead. I’ll go with Oregon 41 FSU 31.

FrankDNole: OU is a good team and Mariotta seems like a fine young man and a pretty good running QB who is a good fit for the gimmicky system they run at OU. But the quackers and their delusional fans have no idea of the buzz saw they are about to encounter. They are in for a culture shock and will learn what big boy football is all about.

I expect the Noles to have this game in hand near the end of the 3rd quarter and the Noles will pull away easily in the 4th when OU can’t get their ducks in a row.  The final score will make it seem closer than it really is and OU will continue to carry the “can’t win the big one” monkey on their backs for the foreseeable future. The ass kicking FSU is about to give OU will give them some real valid reasons for “why they should hate Florida State.”

The only real concern I have is that the FSU coaches and players will lose focus and start preparing for Alabama mid-way through the 4th quarter, and allow a garbage time score.

FSU 52 – OU 31.

Matt Minnick: A healthy and refreshed FSU flips the 2014 script and comes out white hot, taking a double-digit lead into halftime. But the Ducks offense takes flight in the 3rd quarter and Jimbo goes a tad too conservative a tad too early. Tied at 34 late in the game, Jameis shows everyone exactly why he’s undefeated in college and leads a long drive culminating in a TD toss to O’Leary with less than a minute to play. Seminoles win 41-34.

PhenomeNoles: May look like more of a dipshit that I already am after this prediction, but I like the FSU new look OL to dominate and a healthy Defense to hold serve. Noles 48-27.

pbysh: My wife came across the GT prediction article all on her own and called me out for being the only prediction that had the Noles losing. I had a terrible feeling, what can I say. Oddly, I feel much better about this game. Mariota and Oregon will get theirs, but I feel like the time off will be key for us here. I don’t think Oregon will be able to stop us. 41-31 FSU.

Daniel Almira:

FSU 41

Oregon 37

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