Florida State a shaky favorite

It’s time to find out if Florida State can live up to its preseason hype.

The Seminoles have lost at least three games for 11 consecutive seasons. In 10 of those 11 seasons, they tasted defeat four times or more.

Nevertheless, we annually witness pundits writing a familiar script for this team. It goes something like this: Florida State beats up on a few cupcakes, catapults into the top 10 of the rankings, and most media members declare the Seminoles are back.

On the “Tim Brando Show” this week, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher was asked what exactly “being back” means, anyway? Fisher replied, “I have no idea.”

Well, if a history lesson is needed, we’re honored to deliver one. Once upon a time, coach Bobby Bowden led the Seminoles to two national championships and 14 consecutive top-five finishes.

Although that’s the standard set by Bowden in Tallahassee, those days are long gone. Blowout victories over Murray State, Savannah State and Wake Forest this month are not changing that.

Clemson has dominated this rivalry in recent years, winning outright in five of the past seven meetings while going 6-1 against the spread. The Tigers captured a 35-30 win last season behind monster performances by quarterback Tajh Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins.

As a road underdog during coach Dabo Swinney’s five-year tenure, Clemson has a 5-2 spread record. This is the first time the Tigers have been double-digit underdogs since Swinney replaced Tommy Bowden.

Folks, don’t drink the E.J. Manuel Kool-Aid. The Florida State quarterback has the potential to look good, but he’s also inconsistent. Take the Tigers and 14½ points in what I expect to be a nail-biting Atlantic Coast Conference showdown.

Three more plays for today (home team in CAPS):

■ Arizona (+22½) over OREGON – I bet the Wildcats at plus-24 early in the week, and that number is nowhere to be found now. However, as long as the underdog is getting at least 21 points, I think that’s the correct side. Arizona’s offense has improved each week and should produce enough points to cover a big number against the Ducks.

■ GEORGIA TECH (-14) over Miami – The Yellow Jackets, who are looking to avenge three straight losses to Miami, rolled up 594 yards of offense en route to a 56-20 victory over Virginia last week. Meanwhile, Miami was struggling to get separation from Bethune-Cookman just one week after getting thumped at Kansas State, 52-13.

The Hurricanes will be without their best defensive player, linebacker Denzel Perryman, and starting defensive tackle Curtis Porter. I smell woodshed treatment.

■ Kansas State (+16) over OKLAHOMA – It’s worth backing a solid team that’s a two-touchdown underdog. The Wildcats have covered the number in eight consecutive games as road underdogs, and they have one of the nation’s premier quarterbacks in Collin Klein, who has passed for 609 yards and five touchdowns while also rushing for 210 yards and four scores.

The Sooners limped past Texas-El Paso 24-7 in their opener and have played only Florida A&M since, so a lot of question marks follow coach Bob Stoops’ team.

Last week: 4-1 against the spread

Season: 11-4

Brian Edwards of VegasInsider.com and BrianEdwardsSports.com is providing college football analysis for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

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