2017 Independence Bowl Picks – Southern Miss vs. Florida State

The Florida State Seminoles tried as hard as they could to get into a bowl game this year after enduring a terribly disappointing 2017 campaign. They got the job done, extending their streak to 36 straight years playing in college football’s postseason.

But the team’s trip to the Independence Bowl is about as woeful of a December or January bowl game as the program has played in during this stretch of dominance.

Many are forecasting the Southern Miss Golden Eagles to pull off the upset even though they’re the second-biggest underdogs of this postseason.

Florida State Bowl History

FSU may have the longest active streak of consecutive years appearing in a bowl game, but this is the very first time in its history that someone is going to be coaching under an interim tag. Odell Haggins is going to be coaching the Independence Bowl before vacating his spot in favor of Willie Taggart.

The Seminoles won last year’s Orange Bowl over Michigan, stopping a stretch of two years with bowl games that ended in losses.

This is FSU’s first trip to a non-BCS/New Year’s Six bowl game since playing in the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl, a game in which it defeated Notre Dame.

Southern Miss Bowl History

The Golden Eagles are back in a bowl game for the third consecutive season. Jay Hopson won his first postseason contest with Southern Miss last year in the New Orleans Bowl, but the team was beaten in Todd Monken’s last year on the job in the Heart of Dallas Bowl in 2015.

This is the third time Southern Miss has played in the Independence Bowl, though it’s been nearly three decades since its last visit to Shreveport. The Golden Eagles won the 1980 and 1988 Independence Bowls.

Why Florida State Will Win the Independence Bowl

The Seminoles came on strong at the end of the season, winning their last three games to overcome a 3-6 start and get into a bowl. Sure, the season was an abject disaster, but it should be remembered that everyone gives the ‘Noles their best shot. Losses to Alabama, Clemson and Miami—three teams playing in New Year’s Six games—were nothing to just blow off. Outside of the defeat at the hands of Boston College, the Seminoles didn’t lose a single game this year to a team that wasn’t ranked for at least a few weeks over the course of the campaign.

Keep an eye on Cam Akers. The freshman could be in for huge things once Taggart takes over next season, but he had a great end to his first year at FSU. Akers ran for 931 yards and totaled seven touchdowns, and he’ll be one of the best athletes on the field.

Why Southern Miss Will Win the Independence Bowl

The Golden Eagles have nothing to lose in this game. They’re supposed to get blown out, and they should be loose as could be. No, they haven’t played against great competition this season, but they did hang in there against both Kentucky and Tennessee.

Mobile quarterbacks haven’t had a ton of success against Florida State with all the speed it has on defense, but at least Kwadra Griggs hasn’t turned the ball over often. He only has two interceptions in his 240 pass attempts, and if he can take care of the football, the Golden Eagles could stay in this game.

Independence Bowl Prediction

With as much hype bestowed upon Southern Miss for this game, we can’t see it coming through. We wouldn’t lay 17 points with Florida State as the betting lines are suggesting, but the Seminoles have firmly taken care of business in these last three games against Delaware State, Florida and Louisiana-Monroe.

The Seminoles were better than Tennessee this season, and they were probably just as good as Kentucky. Even without Derwin James in the fold as he prepares for the NFL Draft, we can’t see FSU even being in the remotest of fights in the Independence Bowl so long as it cares about playing out the season.

Independence Bowl Pick: Florida State 27, Southern Miss 14

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