Previewing the Cheez-It Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Florida State
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This is the preview for the Cheez-It Bowl
Date: Thursday, Dec. 29, 5:30 p.m. ET
Camping World Stadium (Orlando, FL)
Betting splits: 82% of handle, 52% of bets on Florida State -9
Brent Venables’ first season as Oklahoma’s head coach took a turn for the worse in late September and got ugly in October. Venables, a veteran defensive coordinator for the Sooners and Clemson, took over an 11-win team and steered it into a 6-6 ditch. A bowl loss would stick Oklahoma with a rare losing season, and the outlook is bleak as the Sooners head to Orlando without 15 players who have entered the transfer portal and four more who left to prepare for NFL careers. There are two significant positives—quarterback Dillon Gabriel and top wideout Marvin Mims will play in the bowl. Gabriel, who transferred from Central Florida, passed for 24 touchdowns in his first season with the Sooners. He threw for 449 yards and six touchdowns—including a 77-yarder to Mims—in a 51-48 loss at Texas Tech in the regular-season finale.
Florida State’s pass defense ranks third in the nation by allowing 159 yards per game, so Gabriel and Mims are not getting a vacation day in Florida. Seminoles defensive end Jared Verse and safety Jammie Robinson, who are highly-regarded NFL prospects, committed to stay and play in the bowl. Florida State (9-3) takes a five-game winning streak and a hot offense into the postseason. Jordan Travis has 22 touchdown passes with four interceptions for the Seminoles, who scored an average of 43.6 points in their last five games. Travis gets big-play production from wide receiver Johnny Wilson and running back Trey Benson.
In the one start Gabriel missed this season, Oklahoma suffered a humiliating 49-0 loss to Texas. Gabriel has not said if he will return next season, so this could be the final college game for Gabriel and Mims. The honeymoon is over for Venables, who would have a more pleasant offseason if the Sooners can pull the upset as 9-point dogs. Gabriel will let it fly as Oklahoma tries to bank on its offense to win a high-scoring game. Still, the underdog is dealing with several player defections, and Florida State has a location advantage, the far better defense and probably too much firepower.— Matt Youmans
Matchup page for Cheez-It Bowl
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