Florida State Head Coach Jimbo Fisher has yet to beat a top-10 team, either SU or ATS. Will 2013 be any different? Let's examine Florida State’s 2013-2014 college football betting prospects.


The Florida State Seminoles under Coach Fisher have gone 31-10 (75.61%) straight-up (SU), but just 20-21 (48.78%) against-the-spread (ATS). Fisher’s Seminoles have not faired well against good competition, going 4-6 SU and 3-7 ATS versus teams that finished the season ranked in the top-25. 

Are you prepared for the upcoming college football season?

The Seminoles Against-the-Spread

Predicting any team’s ATS success or their college football odds in the off-season is a challenge, but we have discovered some correlations worth examining. In general, a team’s ATS season record usually stems from the difference between expectations and actual results. Those expectations can be measured by their preseason ranking, their variation in straight-up (SU) wins (from the previous season), and an extreme (either very good or very bad) ATS season immediately prior to the one in question. Expectations are usually quite high for Florida State. In fact, FSU has been ranked in the top-25 of the Associated Press (AP) Preseason Poll in 10 of the last 11 years. That is, in part, why the Seminoles have only won a fraction above 45% of their games ATS over the past 11 years. The chart below illustrates how FSU’s numerically low preseason rank (a lower numerical rank means higher expectations) generally translates to fewer ATS wins than losses.

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Florida State’s best ATS year was when they had a preseason ranking of 20th (in 2010). Three of FSU’s worst ATS years were when their preseason ranking was in the top-10 (2002, 2004, and 2012). Since the Seminoles rank 11th in the Associated Press (AP) Preseason Poll for 2013, this season appears to be another year of reasonably high expectations. In total, when ranked in the preseason top-15 (like this year), Florida State had two profitable and five unprofitable ATS seasons.

Over the past 11 years, five out of the six seasons that Florida State registered the same or fewer SU season wins than in the prior season, they were unprofitable ATS. The Seminoles had 12 SU wins in 2012, tying the school record for most wins in a season. Improving on that number seems unlikely, especially with Away games against #8 Clemson and #10 Florida.

In 2012, Florida State won less than 40% of their games ATS (35.71%, to be exact). In the 10 years prior to 2012, FSU won less than 40% of their games in a season, four times. In three out of the four cases, Florida State bounced back the following year with a profitable ATS season.

Betting Trends for Florida State Under Jimbo Fisher

  • Unlike many college football powerhouses, the Seminoles do better at Home when the spread is great. They are 9-3 ATS at Home when the spread is greater than 17 points.
  • Conversely, FSU is 2-7 ATS at Home when the spread is under 18 points.
  • FSU is 1-5 ATS in Away games when the spread is greater than 14 points.
  • Public Betting Percentage: Florida State is 9-2 ATS at Home when the public betting percentage is GREATER THAN 50%. When less than 50% of the public is betting on FSU at Home, they are 2-6 ATS (and 0-4 ATS when FSU is backed by less than 40% of the betting public). Public Betting Conclusion: When it comes to FSU at Home, bet WITH the public.
  • Judging from opening to closing betting lines, the line direction was correct 8 out 10 times in FSU’s Home games, when the line movement was greater than a single point.
  • Conversely, the line direction was WRONG 8 out of 10 times in Away games, when the line movement was greater than a single point.
  • FSU is 8-18 (30.77%) ATS when held under 200 rushing yards, including an 0-6 ATS mark in 2012.
  • FSU is 6-11 (35.29%) ATS when allowing over 100 rushing yards, including a 1-4 ATS mark in 2012.
  • Combining the two, when FSU was held under 200 rushing yards AND their defense allowed over 100 rushing yards, they were 2-10 (16.67%) ATS.

2014 BCS National Championship Futures Betting

Image previewAs this is being written, Bovada has Florida State at 20-to-1 to win the 2014 BCS National Championship, giving them the 9th shortest odds on the board. In a previous article, we outlined our 60% Rule, where all BCS National Champions had at least three of the following five criteria before starting their championship seasons:

1) An upperclassman quarterback:

As this is being written, redshirt freshman Jameis Winston appears to have won the starting job at quarterback. Even if it were not so, sophomore Jacob Coker would not change Florida State’s status in this category, as both QB’s are underclassmen. Only one underclassman out of 15 BCS Champions ever won the National Championship. Despite having a couple of talented QB’s, FSU does not meet this first criterion of the 60% Rule.

2) A top-20 scoring defense one year prior:

Of the 15 previous BCS National Champions, 13 (86.67%) had top-10 scoring defenses the year they won it all. As a predictive criterion, 12 out of 15 teams (80%) had top-20 scoring defenses the year before winning the BCS. Florida State’s scoring defense ranked 6th in 2012, so the second predictive criterion of the 60% Rule is met. It is important to note here that Florida State had 11 players selected in the 2013 NFL draft, 7 of whom were from the defense- including 4 defensive linemen! Consequently, FSU returns just 64% of their tackles (as in people who bring down ball carriers, not the position) from 2012. That is the 72nd most returning tackles in the FBS and the 9th most in the ACC. Despite returning less than the national and conference averages for tackles, that “new” defensive line boasts two #1-ranked guys at their respective positions, and another couple of guys who (combined) had 57 tackles in 2012. This Florida State defense should still be quite good in 2013.

3) A preseason top-10 ranking:

The third criterion of the 60% Rule is having a preseason top-10 ranking. Mentioned above, Florida State ranks 11th in this year’s AP Preseason Poll- just missing the required mark in this category.

4) Membership in the Southeastern Conference (the SEC):

The fourth criterion calls for membership in the Southeastern Conference. Although residing in SEC country and possessing a defense that could hold its own in the SEC, Florida State is not an SEC team.

5) A head coach who had been at the school for two to four years:

The final criterion of the 60% Rule calls for the head coach to be at his institution for two to four years. Jimbo Fisher enters his fourth season as the head coach at Florida State, therefore placing him inside of that predictive range for head coaches.

In total, Florida State meets just two of the five predictive criteria for winning a BCS title, disqualifying them as good candidates for that 2014 BCS National Championship futures bet.

Preseason Conclusions

In terms of college football picks, bet on Florida State games at Home as the public majority does. Doing so under Jimbo Fisher has resulted in an amazing 15-4 (78.95%) ATS record. Pay attention to line movement. Under Fisher, line direction has provided the correct side 80% of the time at Home, while it has indicated the wrong side 80% of the time in Away games. (In both cases, remember to look for line movement that is greater than a single point.) As the season unfolds, look to bet on FSU opponents that can run the ball well on offense AND stop the run on defense. As for the 2014 BCS National Championship, Florida State falls short of meeting the 60% Rule. We, therefore, recommend against placing that futures sports pick on the Seminoles.

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