Bowl Breakdown: Gator

Publish date:

No. 18 West Virginia (9-3) vs. Florida State (6-6)Jan. 1, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Reason to watch: Because it's Florida State coach Bobby Bowden's last game. Bowden remains upset that he was forced out a year before he wanted to retire, so it's possible he may say some interesting things in the postgame press conference. The Seminoles, at 6-6, shouldn't be playing on New Year's Day, but the Gator Bowl set up this matchup as a hat tip to Bowden, who was West Virginia's head coach before he took over in Tallahassee in 1976. Plus, Gator Bowl officials knew their game would sell out if it was Bowden's last one.

Keep an eye on: West Virginia tailback Noel Devine might be playing his last game as a Mountaineer, or he might not. Either way, there's a good chance he'll rack up some impressive numbers. Devine averages 5.8 yards per carry, and he has recorded touchdown runs of 88, 77, 71 and 56 yards this season. That doesn't bode well for Florida State's porous defense, which has surrendered 24 rushing touchdowns and allows an average of 203.2 rushing yards a game.

Did you know: Bowden is 21-9 in bowl games as FSU's coach. That includes wins against West Virginia in the 1982 and 2005 Gator Bowls.

Final analysis: While Devine and quarterback Jarrett Brown should have little trouble scoring against FSU's defense, many opposing defenses have struggled against FSU's offense. Quarterback E.J. Manuel is 2-1 since replacing injured starter Christian Ponder, and tailbacks Jermaine Thomas and Lonnie Pryor look like future stars. If both offenses play to their potentials, this one could be fun to watch.

The pick: West Virginia 35, FSU 32.

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