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Florida State vs. Georgia: Picks, best bets for Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens on Saturday

The Noles and Bulldogs will meet in MIA without a lot of of key players on both sides. Because of this, Georgia enters Hard Rock Stadium as a heavy favorite.

Syndication: Tallahassee Democrat Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat / USA TODAY NETWORK

The 2023 Capital One Orange Bowl will take place today as the No. 5 Florida State Seminoles will battle the No. 6 Georgia Bulldogs at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. This is the third of the New Year’s Six bowl games taking place this weekend and kickoff is set for 4 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Florida State (13-0, 8-0 ACC)...oh buddy, where do we begin here. The Seminoles successfully built off its 10-win campaign in 2022 by running the table and reclaiming their throne as the kings of the ACC. The Noles opened the year by knocking off LSU for a second year in a row and an overtime victory over Clemson later in the month served as a symbolic changing of the guard moment at the top of the league. With weapons like Jordan Travis, Keon Coleman, Jared Verse, and several others making plays, the Noles cruised through the rest of the schedule. Travis unfortunately suffered a season ending leg injury in a late-season game against North Alabama, but the team rallied to beat rival Florida the following week and Louisville in the ACC Championship Game to cap the perfect season.

AND YET, FSU was snubbed for the College Football Playoff in favor of one-loss Alabama, creating the biggest controversy of the CFP era. The Noles became the first undefeated Power Five champion to be left out of the four-team field and the committee cited Travis’ injury as the main reason for the snub. FSU brass from athletic director Michael Alford to head coach Mike Norvell understandably went scorched earth over the decision and it gave the school’s board of trustees more fuel in its pursuit to leave the ACC. Needless to say, there is zero enthusiasm from the Tallahassee contingent for today’s Orange Bowl.

Georgia (12-1, 8-0 SEC) loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game kept it out of the College Football Playoff, ending the its hopes of becoming the first program in nearly a century to pull off a three-peat. With several key figures from the team’s previous two national title teams moving on to the NFL, several new faces stepped into leading roles this season, chief among them being quarterback Carson Beck. The Dawgs didn’t look as dominant as it had in previous seasons, experiencing close calls against the likes of South Carolina, Auburn, and Missouri.

But don’t get it twisted. UGA was still head and shoulders better than its regular season competition and still marched its way to another 12-0 record. Beck grew into an effective starter by the end of the year while tight end Brock Bowers became the first ever two-time winner of the Mackey Award. The team ultimately came up short in a 27-24 loss to the Crimson Tide in the league title game, leaving them out of the playoff field.

SP+ Rankings

Florida State: 8 overall, 16 offense, 7 defense
Georgia: 2 overall, 5 offense, 5 defense

List of injuries and players opting out of game

Florida State

WR Keon Coleman – Out (Opt-Out)
DE Jared Verse - Out (Opt-Out)
QB Tate Rodemaker – Out (Transfer Portal)
RB Trey Benson – Out (Opt-Out)
WR Johnny Wilson – Out (Opt-Out)
TE Jaheim Bell – Out (Opt-Out)
RB CJ Campbell – Out (Transfer Portal)
TE Jimmy Casey – Out (Transfer Portal)
TE Preston Daniel – Out (Transfer Portal)
TE Markeston Douglas – Out (Transfer Portal)
QB AJ Duffy – Out (Transfer Portal)
RB Rodney Hill – Out (Transfer Portal)
RB Lawrance Toafili – Out (Undisclosed)
WR Winston Wright – Out (Transfer Portal)
LB Tatum Bethune - Out (Opt-Out)

Georgia

TE Brock Bowers – Questionable (Ankle/Possible Opt-Out)
WR Zeed Haynes – Out (Transfer Portal)
WR Logan Johnson – Out (Transfer Portal)
WR Jackson Meeks – Out (Transfer Portal)
WR Mekhi Mews – Out (Transfer Portal)
WR De’Nylon Morrissette – Out (Transfer Portal)
QB Brock Vandagriff – Out (Transfer Portal)
LB EJ Lightsey – Out (Back)

ATS/Total

Against The Spread in 2023

Florida State: 8-5 ATS
Georgia: 4-8-1 ATS

Total in 2023

Florida State: Over 7-6
Georgia: Over 6-7

Team Pace

Florida State: 2.25 plays per minute of offense
Georgia: 2.05 plays per minute of offense

Odds at DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: Georgia -20
Total: 44.5
Moneyline: Georgia -1200, Florida State +750

Opening line: Georgia -14.5
Opening total: 45

Weather

67 degrees, partly sunny, 8 MPH winds WNW

Our Best Bet for the Orange Bowl

Georgia -21.5

Take a time machine, go back about 30 years, and tell someone that a 13-0 Florida State is facing a 12-1 Georgia in the Orange Bowl. It would sound like the highlight of the entire bowl season, right? Then tell them that there are no national title implications involved and neither program could be bothered to feign interest in the game.

That’s where we are with this year’s Orange Bowl. Both sides are dealing with a number of opt outs, but FSU is practically fielding a brand new team with the number of star players that won’t be taking the field. Even with a heavy 21.5-point spread, I’ll take the Dawgs on principle.