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Florida State vs. Arizona State: Sun Bowl preview and picks against the spread

Florida State (6-6) vs. Arizona State (7-5)

Location: El Paso, Texas | When: Dec. 31 (2 p.m.) | TV: CBS | Line: Arizona State -4.5

HOW THESE TEAMS GOT HERE

Florida State: Florida State needed two wins late in the year just to get to a bowl game. The year started poorly with losses to Boise State and Virginia and an overtime win over UL Monroe. The Seminoles were up-and-down from there, eventually dropping to 4-5 on the year with a Nov. 2 loss to Miami. That defeat brought along the firing of head coach Willie Taggart, and Odell Haggins ended up finishing the year 2-1 as the interim. The wins came over Boston College and Alabama State while the loss was a 40-17 decision at Florida. 

Arizona State: Arizona State was 5-1 and the No. 17 team in the country when it visited No. 13 Utah on Oct. 19. The Sun Devils fell 21-3 that night in Salt Lake City for the first of four straight losses. But Herm Edwards’ team would finish the year strong, snapping the four-game losing streak by pulling off one of the upsets of the year, a 31-28 win over No. 6 Oregon. ASU then closed out the year by beating rival Arizona 24-14 to lock up a winning record. 

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH

These teams find themselves in interesting positions. Florida State has ex-Memphis coach Mike Norvell coming in next year. Will FSU’s players be motivated to play hard with their new coach looking on? Meanwhile, Arizona State is in its second season under Herm Edwards and is full of young talent, but a few of the team’s top skill position players have opted to skip the bowl. On top of that, the Sun Bowl features one of the coolest backdrops of bowl season with the mountains of El Paso surrounding the stadium. 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Florida State WR Tamorrion Terry: Tamorrion Terry is a big play waiting to happen. Over his two years in Tallahassee, Terry is averaging 20.5 yards per reception on 86 total catches. Terry has 51 catches for 1,023 yards and eight scores this year. His 1,023 yards and 20.1-yard average are both third-best marks in the ACC. 

Arizona State QB Jayden Daniels: Jayden Daniels arrived at ASU as the second-ranked dual-threat quarterback prospect in the country. He certainly lived up to the billing during his freshman year in Tempe. Entering the bowl game, Daniels threw for 2,748 yards, 17 touchdowns and just two interceptions while completing 62.3 percent of his passes. He also has 319 yards and three scores rushing. 

Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) throws under pressure from Oregon linebacker Isaac Slade-Matautia on Nov. 23 in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

NFL DRAFT PROSPECT

Arizona State C Cohl Cabral: The best 2020 prospects from the two schools are sitting this one out, either to prep for the draft (Arizona State WR Brandon Aiyuk, ASU RB Eno Benjamin, Florida State RB Cam Akers and FSU CB Stanford Samuels III) or because of injury (FSU DT Marvin Wilson). The latter being out should make it an easier assignment for Cabral, even though FSU’s 346-pound nose tackle, Robert Cooper, is tough to move. Cabral isn’t an elite athlete, but he’s been valuable for the Sun Devils at left tackle for the first two games and at center ever since. We project him as a later Day 3 pick.

- Eric Edholm

WHAT’S ON THE LINE

Florida State: When FSU went 5-7 in 2018, it was the program’s first losing season since 1976 — Bobby Bowden’s first year in Tallahassee. Now, to avoid back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1975-76, the Seminoles need to beat Arizona State. If FSU wins the game, it would be the program’s third straight bowl victory. FSU won the Orange Bowl in 2016 and the Independence Bowl in 2017, 

Arizona State: Arizona State has lost three straight bowl games entering the Sun Bowl. ASU lost to West Virginia in the 2015 Cactus Bowl, lost to NC State in the 2017 Sun Bowl and to Fresno State in the 2018 Las Vegas Bowl. ASU can also get to eight wins in a season for the first time since 2014. 

PICKS

Nick Bromberg: FSU +4.5

Sam Cooper: ASU -4.5

Picks from the Yahoo Sports College Podcast

Pat Forde: ASU -4.5

Pete Thamel: FSU +4.5

Dan Wetzel: ASU -4.5

Sean Sullivan: ASU -4.5