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2017 Walk-On’s Independence Bowl preview

The 2017 Walk-On’s Independence Bowl is the only game that involves a team that was reportedly bowl ineligible. Florida State was thought to be ineligible due to an obscure rule that states that beating an FCS team only counts towards bowl eligibility if that team is using a certain amount of scholarships. Either way, the Seminoles will be playing the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles in this game. Here is the 2017 Walk-On’s Independence Bowl preview:

Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (8-4)

2017 Walk-on's Independence bowl preview
Ito Smith (Photo by zimbio.com)

Southern Miss beat three bowl eligible teams and finished with eight total wins. Their big wins were over UTSA, Louisiana Tech and Marshall. They have been a solid program in the C-USA for a while now and have made their third straight bowl game.

Their offense scores 30.5 points per game, which ranks 49th nationally. They have a really good running game that averages 189 yards per game. Ito Smith is a star who has produced for years as a Golden Eagle. Smith has 1,321 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns this season. With his output, Smith ranks 64th for career rushing yards with 4,444.

Kwadra Griggs and Keon Howard have both had time at quarterback for the Golden Eagles. Griggs is the more experienced player and will start in the bowl game. His greatest asset is that he takes care of the football. This season Griggs has 1,793 passing yards, 15 touchdowns and two interceptions. Korey Robertson and Allenzae Staggers are two of the teams talented receivers. Robertson is the better of the two this season with 72 catches, 1,070 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns.

The scoring defense is solid, allowing 23 points per game. Southern Miss ranks 28th against the run and 25th versus the pass. Senior defensive back Tarvarius Moore has been all over the field with 73 total tackles, three interceptions and nine passes defended.

Florida State Seminoles (6-6)

2017 Walk-on's Independence Bowl preview
Cam Akers (Photo by tallahassee.com)

Florida State will be missing a lot in this bowl game. Jimbo Fisher is gone, Derwin James decided to sit the bowl game out for the NFL Draft and Deondre Francois has been out all season. The Seminoles were still able to scrap and claw to six wins. Their two wins over bowl teams came at the expense of Wake Forest and Duke.

The offense has struggled without Francois at the helm with 26.2 points per game. Jacques Patrick and freshman Cam Akers lead the sub-par rushing attack for the Seminoles. Akers leads the team with 930 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, while Patrick has chipped in 687 yards and six touchdowns.

James Blackmon has had a tough first season as a starting quarterback for Florida State. He has 1,557 passing yards, 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Nyqwan Murray has been the number one target for Blackmon and has 604 yards receiving and four touchdowns. When he needs a touchdown, Blackmon looks for Auden Tate, who leads the team with seven receiving touchdowns.

The defense has had to deal with the lack of offense, but still allows just 21.9 points per game. Florida State ranks 34th against the run and 36th against the pass. With Derwin James out the rest of the secondary will need to step up. Tarvarus McFadden is a shut down corner and opposing quarterbacks don’t like throwing it his way. He doesn’t have an interception, but he does have eight passes defended.

Prediction

Florida State may be missing a lot, but they still have more NFL-level talent than Southern Miss. The Seminoles will feed Cam Akers and it will be too much for the Golden Eagles. Florida State’s athleticism on defense will shine.

Florida State Seminoles 36 Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles 23

 

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