Game Preview: Gator Bowl

Friday's Gator Bowl not only wraps up the season for the Seminoles, but it is also the end of an era for 2 legendary coaches. The players have practiced hard the past few weeks and they're ready to win Bobby Bowden's final game. NoleDigest previews the game and gives their prediction on how it may turn out

Friday's Gator Bowl is the end of an era for Florida State as Bobby Bowden and Mickey Andrews wrap up their illustrious careers as Seminole coaches. FSU enters the bowl game 6-6 as they are fighting to prevent their first losing season since 1976. West Virginia enters the game looking for their 10th win of the season and a possible top 15 finish in the final polls.

This game will not lack in speed, yet both teams are different in their approach to the game. Each team will try to dictate their pace and set the tone. Each team has their strengths and advantages. NoleDigest previews the 3 factors that will go into the game and gives their thoughts on who'll come out on top.

1) FSU's ability to contain Noel Devine and Jarrett Brown on the ground: FSU is giving up over 200 yards per game on the ground in 2009, and in this game they face an extremely elusive running back in Devine and a quarterback who some feel is more deadly on his feet than he is with his arm. The Seminoles have long struggled against mobile quarterbacks, and in this game they face a guy like Brown who the Mountaineers use very well.

FSU's seen improved play from its linebackers over the last month of the season but their habit of over pursuit and missed tackles need to be kept to a minimum this game. Devine kills teams with his speed and ability to make people miss. Once he gets into the open field he is likely to take it to the house.

We've talked all year about how the ‘Noles need to play assignment football and in this game it rings very true. WVU uses a variation of the spread option that FSU hasn't been able to stop over the past couple years.

2) FSU's ability to rush the ball: WVU has one of the Big East's best secondaries. The Seminoles need to run the ball if they want to win this game. While E.J. Manuel has played overall replacing Christian Ponder the Mountaineers are more than capable of forcing Manuel into bad decisions.

Jermaine Thomas and Lonnie Pryor have developed into the top game breakers for the ‘Noles from the running back position. They've been playing well over the second half of the season, but in this game they are vital if FSU is to win the game and control the clock. WVU's front in the 3-3-5 is not as athletic as some of the teams FSU has faced, but they are disciplined and play smart football.

3) Controlling their emotions: This is without a doubt one of the most emotional games in FSU history. Bobby Bowden was FSU for decades, but now his time is coming to a close as the head coach. Since the game was announced the players have talked about sending Bowden out with a win.

It is important that FSU doesn't put too much pressure on themselves to make that happen. NoleDigest fully expects this team to come out fired up, but they cannot let that put them in bad positions and make them miss plays.

Final Score:

FSU's defense is the overall key component to this game. Can they force turnovers and keep Devine and co. in check? That will dictate how this game unfolds. We expect both teams to score a ton of points.

FSU will be on an emotional high Friday. NoleDigest feels that will lead to some mistakes, but overall that will give them the edge as they look to send Bowden and Andrews out in winning fashion. While FSU doesn't match up well against WVU's offense something about this game leads us to feel the Seminoles come out on top in a high scoring affair.

FSU 34 WVU 31

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