Capital One Orange Bowl: Florida State v Georgia

By George Somervile

Bowl Season continues! 84 teams, 42 matchups, 35 different cities; if you thought the College Football postseason was restricted to the four teams in the playoffs, think again. In this game preview, we turn our attention to the Capital One Orange Bowl:

Where and When

Capital One Orange Bowl

Location: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami FL

Date: 30th December 2023

Time: 4:00pm (ET)

Story so far…

Image credit: Joshua L. Jones, Athens Banner-Herald

Cast your mind back to that fateful College Football Play-Off show when the Seminoles found themselves on the outside looking in to the final four. For the first time in CFB Playoff history, an undefeated Power 5 Champion was left out of the final 4.

Back then, this Orange Bowl game was touted as a revenge game and the opportunity for both teams to prove that they were Final Four contenders.

Since then the transfer portal has opened as well as the earliest date that players could announce their eligibility to enter the draft. As a consequence, both teams are now shadows of their former selves.

Meaning this game now seems less about having a massive point to prove and more like the Bowl that no-one wants to play in.

much to play for

But that’s not to say this Orange Bowl will be lacklustre. Both of these teams have long and proud histories – we have too short memories if we have forgotten that this Georgia team has just come to the end of a 29-game unbeaten run. So too, Florida State – ACC Champions and unbeaten until this point. A team, who until their starting quarterback Jordan Travis was badly injured, were considered one of, if not the best team in the country.

Meaning there remains  much to play for and points to prove.

It has been twenty years since these teams last squared up against each other in the 2003 Sugar Bowl. With a spooky comparison to this years depleted FSU roster, the Noles then played wide receiver Anquan Bolden at quarterback in the loss to Georgia by 26-13.

This Orange Bowl should and deserves to be a tasty and feisty game.

The Quarterbacks…

Image Credit: Kathryn Skeean, UGA Sports
beck is #1

Let’s start with the less complicated situation. In Athens, Carson Beck has had a great season. The Bulldogs fanbase who were mourning the loss of their talisman quarterback, Stetson Bennett, found a new (and dare I say it improved), QB in Beck.

Beck has thrived in Mike Bobo’s offense. Per Marc Weiszer of USA TODAY Sports, Beck is on track to set a Georgia single-season record for completion percentage (72.4 % entering bowl), is ranked ninth nationally in passing efficiency and 12th in passing yards per game (287.5).

Beck has declared that he will return to Athens in 2024 and his recent announcement looks to have been the catalyst for QB2 Brock Vandagriff entering the transfer portal and UGA 5-star commit, Dylan Raiola flipping his commitment from the Dawgs to Nebraska on National Signing Day.

It’s Complicated 

Across in Tallahassee, the QB situation is well, complicated.

Jordan Travis is injured and has played his last game as a student athlete. Travis’ replacement Tate Rodemaker has, surprisingly, entered the transfer portal and will not be eligible play in this Bowl game. This means that the Noles are now down to their third string quarterback, with truth freshman Brock Glenn the only – yes only, scholarship quarterback left on the roster. 

The one bright spot for Noles fans in this scenario is that Glenn played in the ACC Championship win over Louisville after Rodemaker suffered a head injury. He guided them to victory in the game and has at least some, if not much, experience going into this game.

Prospects to watch…

Image credit :AP Photo/Erik Verduzco

Frankly, the list of players not suiting up for this game is far, far longer than those that are. In fact Georgia travelled a number of early enrolees – both freshmen and inbound transfers who are ineligible to play in this game just to make up practice squad numbers – such is the level of attrition from Athens this season. Even as I write this Florida State players who seemed destined to play in the bowl game last week have since dropped out. With the number rising, at least fifteen of the current FSU roster have declared for the draft or entered the transfer portal. So by the time you read this, the names below could have opted out!

However, let’s focus on those who will or are expected to play.

Florida State

Kentron Poitier, Wide receiver

Poitier was expected to have a more prominent role with the Noles this season, however Johnny Wilson and Keon Coleman took the lion share of the plays and Poitier was limited in receptions. With both of these players moving on, Poitier is expected to step up into the role and is definitely talented enough to grab the limelight on this big occasion. 

Kalen DeLoach, Linebacker

Kalen DeLoach has been a stand out for the Noles this season and will play a key role in this game. His 7 sacks in the regular season is the highest tally by any FSU player since 1993, DeLoach has been a linchpin in the Noles defense this season and was awarded co-defensive MVP at FSU football this year. If the Noles are to win this game, their defense will need to show why it is the #1 defense in the nation.


Ladd McConkey, Wide receiver

McConkey has been plagued with injuries this season and last time we saw him (in the SEC Championship game), he was hobbling on and off the field between plays. The general consensus is that McConkey is fit and will play. It appears that McConkey has, certainly publicly, not decided yet if he will return to Athens for his senior year. Outside of Bowers, McConkey has become a regular and reliable option for Beck this season. He will be Beck’s go-to-guy in this match up.

Javon Bullard, Safety

Bullard has publicly stated that he will play, although many believe that this will be his last appearance in red and black. Bullard has racked up another great season for the Dawgs setting personal bests and breaking team records. Bullard’s flexibility fits the Dawgs complex defensive system making him a good option for NFL teams next year should he declare.


I very much liked Florida States chances when they were playing angry, with a point to prove. Move the clock forward 4 weeks and that anger seems to have eased. Given the injuries and non-availability of players (on both sides) this has the potential to be a game which fizzles out in typical end of season fashion.

However, both coaches are proven winners and you can be sure that their teams come out of the locker room fired up with a collective bee in their bonnets.

For me, UGA continues to have the higher calibre player on their roster and Kirby Smart will have one eye on how and who he builds next year’s team around. So a Dawgs win for me.

Florida State 17-31 UGA

Mock Draft

George Somerville