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AccuScore Simulation: Music City Bowl

Yahoo Sports

AccuScore has run more than 10,000 simulations for every bowl game for Yahoo! Sports, calculating how each team's performance changes in response to game conditions, opponent's abilities, roster moves, weather and more. Each game is simulated one play at a time and the game is replayed a minimum of 10,000 times to generate forecasted winning percentages, player statistics and a variety of game-changing scenarios. Here's AccuScore.com's analysis of the Music City Bowl.

Baseline: Kentucky 63%, Florida State 37%; Score: Kentucky 32, Florida State 26

The Music City Bowl will look nothing like it could have been. Florida State has left 36 players at home because of injury or suspension stemming from an academic cheating scandal. While very few noteworthy skill players are among the missing players, key offensive and defensive lineman and several back-ups will not suit up for the bowl game. This will leave Florida State dangerously thin which will make special teams an adventure and fatigue a factor.

Kentucky will have a big advantage, but is not without injury. Second-leading rusher Derrick Locke suffered a fractured rib and will not play and top wide receiver Keenan Burton is doubtful because of a knee injury.

The suspensions certainly will cost Florida State as Kentucky is expected to take advantage winning 63% of simulations by a six point average margin. Wildcat quarterback Andre Woodson should put on a show for NFL scouts as he is projected for 275 yards and three touchdowns passing while completing nearly 70% of his throws. Florida State suspending both starting defensive tackles will help running back Tony Little gain his forecasted 70 yards on just 15 carries.

Florida State quarterback Drew Weatherford is projected for 270 yards passing with a touchdown. His best attribute all season has been his ball security, and he is throwing just 0.4 interceptions per simulation. Sophomore Preston Parker is Florida State’s top offensive weapon and will see time at both running back and wide receiver. He is projected for over 145 total yards with a score.

Costly Suspensions

Simulating the impact of all the Florida State defensive suspensions is not an exact science. Not only do you have to factor in the individual statistics of each defensive player, you also have to factor in how lack of depth will impact the team, especially in the second half.

On the conservative side, AccuScore expects Florida State to be 20% less effective in key simulation statistics including: sacking Andre Woodson, holding Kentucky to a field goal attempt in the Red Zone, ability to intercept or deflect pass attempts.

Andre Woodson Ky% C-A % YD TD INT Sack
Fla. St. 100% 56% 21-34 62% 230 2.6 1.0 2.8
Fla. St. 80% 64% 25-36 69% 274 2.9 0.9 2.3
Copyright AccuScore.com

No Xavier Lee, No Problem

Xavier Lee was one of the offensive players suspended for the game. It seems that something big happened on every snap Xavier Lee took. Either a touchdown pass, a long run, a lost fumble, a costly interception leading to a touchdown seems to happen every down. Drew Weatherford calms things down on offense, completing a high percentage of short passes and getting rid of the ball when nothing is there. Barring injury the Seminoles are definitely better off with Weatherford over the suspended Lee.

AccuScore has Weatherford leading Florida State to a win in 36% of simulations, keeping the game close with less than a touchdown difference in average simulation score. With Xavier Lee, Florida State only wins 31% of simulations (a -5 percentage point decline). In simulations this is how the two QBs compare:

Comparison Win % C-A % YD TD INT
Drew Weatherford 37% 21-35 61% 271 1.6 0.4
Xavier Lee 31% 20-34 59% 240 1.3 1.1
Copyright AccuScore.com

Which Kentucky Team Will Show Up?

After beating LSU, Back Andre Woodson became a Heisman frontrunner. However, Kentucky followed that up by losing four of their last five games and Woodson disappeared from the race. If you take away the inflated numbers from the triple overtime game against Tennessee, Woodson had just eight TD Passes (6 INTs) in his final 4 games vs. 26 TD Passes (4 INTs) in his first eight games.

AccuScore was curious to see how the two faces of Kentucky would fare in their game with Florida State. We re-simulated the game and disregarded their statistics from their final four regular season games. Then re-simulated the game only using the statistics from the final four games.

Baseline Wk. 1-8 Wk. 9-12
Kentucky Win% 56% 67% 39%
Copyright AccuScore.com

If Kentucky can recapture the energy they had to start the season then they are the clear cut favorite. If they have already mentally checked out, the Seminoles come out on top.

Preston Parker Plays a Huge Role

Florida State’s Antone Smith started most of the season and was the leading rusher for the Seminoles (175 carries, 663 yards, 3.8 ypc, 3 TDs). Preston Parker is listed as a WR, but he ran for 5.4 ypc and 2 TDs, with most of that coming on a 32 carries and 181 yards in two games against quality competition (Maryland and Florida) to close the season.

In simulations where Smith gets the starting nod with Parker backing him up the Seminoles win just 31%. When the Seminoles make Parker the offensive focus in rushing and receiving, their win probability increases to 36%.

Florida State Win % Rush Yd YPC TD
Antone Smith 31% 20 74 3.7 0.6
Preston Parker 36% 20 90 4.5 0.8
Copyright AccuScore.com

For more information, visit www.accuscore.com.

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