A pair of Heisman Trophy candidates and two ranked teams will be on display when Ole Miss takes on Florida State in their season opener at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla., on Monday. Fourth-ranked Florida State returns a talented group on both sides of the ball led by junior running back Dalvin Cook, and senior quarterback Chad Kelly is the key to unlock a successful season for No. 12 Ole Miss.
Cook rushed for a school-record 1,691 yards and 19 touchdowns last year for the Seminoles, who introduce a new starting quarterback in freshman and Orlando native Deondre Francois. Both will have the support of an experienced offensive line and all-ACC tackle Roderick Johnson told the Tampa Bay Times of Cook: “His attitude’s the same as last year and that’s to be the greatest of all time.” Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher calls Kelly “a competitor” and the 6-2, 224-pounder comes to Orlando after a breakout season in which he threw for 4,042 yards and 31 touchdowns while rushing for another 500 and 10 scores. Kelly has the weapons around him to match those numbers and will be tested by one of top defenses the Rebels will face all season.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE HISTORY: Florida State opened this matchup of ranked teams as 6.5-point chalk, but early on the betting action was on Ole Miss. The line moved to FSU -6 and got as low as -4, before money started coming back on the Seminoles, bringing the line back to the current number of FSU -4.5.
The total has also seen a fair amount of action. The number opened at 57 and since then bettors have been hammering the Over, bringing the number all the way up to 60. Check out the complete line history here.
WEATHER REPORT: It will be partly cloudy with a very slight 10 percent chance of rain during the game. There will also be a seven to nine mile per hour wind blowing towards the southwest corner of the stadium.
Ole Miss – DE F. Brown (probable Monday, foot), WR M. Pack (questionable Monday, thumb), OL J. Liggins (out Monday).
Florida State – QB S. Maguire (probable Monday, foot), DB D. James (probable Monday, foot), WR J. Wilson (probable Monday, foot), DB L. Taylor (probable Monday, thigh), OL A. Eberle (probable Monday, concussion), WR N. Muray (probable Monday, concussion), WR T. Rudolph (probable Monday, hamstring), WR G. Campbell (questionable Monday, groin), DB N. Andrews (questionable Monday, hamstring), DT A. Torres (doubtful Monday, foot), OL K. Are (doutbful Monday, concussion), DT D. Taylor II (doubtful Monday, shoulder).
WHAT BOOKS SAY: “We had Florida State at -4.5 Friday afternoon and with the public backing the favorite, we have since moved to Florida St. -6 with 78 percent of the action to cover (as of Sunday afternoon). The Total has also moved on this game, going from 58.5 to 59, with just under 60 percent of the action on the Over.” – Michael Stewart of CarbonSports.ag.
ABOUT OLE MISS (2015: 10-3): One concern for the Rebels this season is on their offensive line, which is expected to include three sophomore starters. Senior Akeem Judd and freshman Eric Swinney lead the rushing attack with Jordan Wilkins (academics) lost for the season and Kelly has a deep receiving corps with wideouts Quincy Adeboyejo and Damore’ea Stringfellow along with tight end Evan Engram owning the most experience. Defensive end Marquis Haynes (10 sacks last year) and safety Tony Conner key the other side of the ball where Ole Miss returns five starters.
ABOUT FLORIDA STATE (2015: 10-3): Francois becomes the fourth freshman to start an opener at quarterback for the Seminoles in their history, after incumbent Sean Maguire (foot) was lost for 4-to-6 weeks, and will make it in his home town. Francois has an offensive line group with a combined 66 starts, one of the nation’s top running backs and an experienced receiving corps that is led by Travis Rudolph (59 catches, 916 yards, seven touchdowns) to help. Defensive end DeMarcus Walker (10½ sacks in 2015) and safety Derwin James (91 tackles, 4½ sacks) are stalwarts for what could be one of the country’s top defenses.
* Ole Miss is 5-1-1 ATS in its last seven games in September.
* Florida State ended last season going 5-1 ATS in its final six games.
* Under is 22-6 in Ole Miss’ last 28 games overall.
* Under is 15-5 in Florida State’s last 22 versus SEC opponents.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Bettors are strongly backing the favorite in this matchup, with 68 percent of wagers on Florida State. The action on the total is much more even, with 51 percent of bettors giving the slight edge to the Over.