Walk-on’s Independence Bowl
Southern Miss (8-4) vs. Florida State (6-6)
1:30 p.m. ET, Dec. 27 (ESPN)
Florida State -16.5, O/U: 49
HOW THESE TEAMS GOT HERE
Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles don’t really have a bad loss. Southern Miss lost to Kentucky, North Texas (which won nine games), UAB (won eight) and Tennessee. OK, so maybe the Tennessee loss is a bad one. But anyway, Southern Miss beat a Louisiana Tech team that dominated SMU in the Frisco Bowl and also Marshall, which beat Colorado State in the New Mexico Bowl.
Florida State: The Seminoles aren’t even supposed to be here. OK, before Florida State fans get defensive, that sentence is a joke. And as we noted earlier in the week, the Seminoles could have simply gotten a waiver if Delaware State didn’t have enough scholarships for the game to officially count. There was no way FSU wasn’t going to play in the game.
Anyway, Florida State rescheduled a game against Louisiana-Monroe for Dec. 2 to get to 6-6. FSU really wanted to keep its bowl streak alive.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Ito Smith, Southern Miss, RB: The man named for Judge Lance Ito — the judge in the O.J. Simpson trial — has rushed for 1,321 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2017. No other Southern Miss player has more than 300 rushing yards or 75 carries. 2017 is the senior’s third-straight season of over 1,000 yards and he’s scored 42 career rushing touchdowns.
Cam Akers, Florida State, RB: The freshman is Florida State’s leading rusher. He’s got 930 yards and seven touchdowns, though he hasn’t had the most consistent season. Akers has four games with over 100 rushing yards and five games with fewer than 50 rushing yards. FSU is 3-1 in those games where he’s topped 100 yards.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH
To see if the Seminoles will finish below .500 for the first time since 1975. Yes, really. FSU has been to a bowl game every season since 1982 and hasn’t finished worse than 7-6 since a 3-8 season as an independent in 1975. That was the season that led to the arrival of Bobby Bowden.
WHAT’S ON THE LINE
Well, that streak of seasons for Florida State. And a second-straight bowl win for Southern Miss, which won the New Orleans Bowl at the end of the 2016 season.
Nick: Southern Miss 24, Florida State 20
Sam: Florida State 27, Southern Miss 24
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