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Georgia vs. Florida State Orange Bowl 2023 Best Bet: Both Offenses Will Steal The Show

The sportsbooks have released their betting odds for the Orange Bowl between Georgia and Florida State. For your best bets, I will explain why the “over” is the play you should make.

Top Pick


Georgia Bulldogs vs. Florida State Seminoles

Saturday, December 30, 2023 – 04:00 PM ET at Hard Rock Stadium


The Total

As of Tuesday morning, oddsmakers have the over/under posted at 44.5. 44.5 is tied for the lowest total in a Georgia game all season. This number is also the lowest total in a Florida State game this season. For comparison’s sake, FSU’s ACC Championship game against Louisville – in which the Seminoles played with their backup quarterback – had a total of 46.

My point is that oddsmakers are treating this Orange Bowl as if it were a game that counted for something like any others. If this were a usual regular season or a playoff game, then I would find this total to be very reasonable.

Let’s be as fair as possible: I like the “over,” yes, but it is true that both teams have established a strong reputation for defense in the regular season.

The Angle

But this is not a game that counts for anything. This is a bowl game, not a playoff game. And these aren’t low-profile teams that are just grateful to be in any bowl game.

Georgia is out of the playoffs for the first time in two years, playing a two-touchdown underdog out of an inferior conference. Florida State is out of the playoffs and is very sour about it. The Seminoles threw a fit because they went undefeated and felt like they deserved a playoff bid.

My contention is that both teams will lack their usual discipline and that this lack will show itself on defense. The gritty Seminoles defense that was the real MVP of its ACC Championship victory won’t be apparent in any respect. Georgia’s characteristic solid defense, the one that showed up when it was especially motivated, like when it held Kentucky to 183 total yards of offense, will likewise not be apparent in this game.

New Year’s Six History

There is a historical component to my thinking. While we can’t get inside these players’ minds, we can see how teams who were in similar situations – as the fifth- and sixth-ranked teams in New Year’s Six bowls, specifically – responded.

Last year, for example, number five Alabama and Kansas State combined for 65 points. Number six Tennessee and Clemson combined for 45 points, although this point total is extremely misleading because Clemson actually amassed 484 total yards of offense. The Tigers kept missing field goals and turning it over deep in Tennessee territory.

The first two teams not to make the playoffs last year, the fifth- and sixth-ranked teams underperformed defensively while retaining the motivation to thrive on offense.

Two years ago, it was even more obvious: number five Notre Dame lost to Oklahoma State in a game that saw over 70 points. Likewise, number 6 Ohio State dropped 48 points on Utah and gave up 45.

It will be the same story this year: exciting offensive play that takes advantage of underperforming defense, of missing defensive intensity.

Georgia’s Offense

It is expected that both of Georgia’s top running backs, Daijun Edwards and Kendall Milton, will play in this bowl game.

These are efficient, big-play running backs who mean a lot to the Bulldogs’ offense. Not only do they sustain drives, but they take a lot of pressure off of quarterback Carson Beck, who will also start in this game.

Even if Beck’s top target, tight end Travis Kelce…err, I mean Brock Bowers… doesn’t play, he’ll still have his second-leading target, wide receiver Dominic Lovett, plus plenty of depth.

Florida State’s Overrated Defense

Recency bias creates a strong perception of the quality of Florida State’s defense. But given it’s schedule, it’s rarely faced a competent mixture of passing and rushing.

Remember that this team gave up 20 points to Duke and Miami, teams that rank very many spots behind Georgia with its ninth-ranked scoring offense that just scored 24 against Alabama.

With absent defensive linemen from a unit that was a key part of its run defense and its overall defense, Florida State won’t have the same quality of personnel to handle Georgia’s running backs. Beck and his pass-catching crew will prevent the Seminoles from being able to devote more attention to Bulldogs running backs.

Georgia’s Beatable Defense

Georgia’s defense has looked rather vulnerable most recently, giving up 23 points to Georgia Tech before surrendering 27 to Alabama.

Even without its top running back, Florida State’s offense will still demonstrate a degree of competence higher than it will require to help the game go “over” the total. With Tate Rodemaker, who did not start in the grinding ACC Championship Game, the Seminoles scored 24 at Florida.

Obviously Georgia’s defense is tougher than Florida’s, but the key point is that in a game that won’t count, the Seminoles will be able to be more aggressive. The absence of their starting running back will be a blessing in disguise for the “over” because they’ll still have enough talent in their rush attack to support Rodemaker, who will have to assume more responsibility and will gladly do so in what will be a fun type of game that doesn’t count for anything.

Lawrance Toafili amassed 118 yards on ten carries in the AFC Championship Game. He has amazing top speed. He’s strong and cuts well. He’ll ably take pressure off his quarterback, especially against a Georgia defense that gave up over 200 rushing yards to Georgia Tech.

Making his offense solidly two-dimensional, Rodemaker will also benefit from the absence of at least a couple of Georgia cornerbacks while he has plenty of pass-catching depth. This depth includes Ja’Khi Douglas, who caught six passes for 115 yards against Pitt, third-leading pass-catcher Jaheim Bell, leading pass-catcher Keon Coleman if we’re extra lucky, and other guys who have made positive appearances.

Takeaway

Everyone will expect a low-scoring between two teams who established reputations for strong defense, but you should expect a high-scoring bowl game in which defense takes a back seat to two-dimensional offenses slinging the ball and running effectively in what will be a fun game to watch.

NCAAF Pick: Over 44.5 (-110) at Bet365 (check our Bet365 Review)

*The line and/or odds referenced in this article might have changed since the content was published. For the latest information on line movements, visit OddsTrader’s free betting odds tool.

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