CHICK-FIL-A PEACH BOWL STORYLINES
1. Houston is looking for its second 13-win season in school history and some national respect when it faces Florida State in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl on Dec. 31 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The Seminoles' senior class is trying to become the first in FBS history to win 50 games in a four-year span. The Cougars own a 12-2-2 record against Florida State, but the teams haven't met since 1978.
2. Florida State became the first team since Alabama in 2011 to hold each regular-season opponent to fewer than 25 points and is ranked fifth in scoring defense (15.8). The Seminoles is tough against the run, allowing 141.8 rushing yards and seven total touchdowns on the ground. Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. (1,041 rushing yards, 19 TDs) and running backs Kenneth Farrow (949 yards, 12 TDs) and Ryan Jackson (353 yards, three TDs) powered the Cougars' ground attack.
3. Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook led the ACC in rushing yards (1,658) and touchdowns (18) and finished the season with four straight 100-yard games. Houston was also solid defensively - ranked 19th in scoring defense (20.5 points) and 12th in rushing defense (116 yards) - but hasn't faced a back as explosive at Cook. The Cougars were also second nationally with a plus-17 turnover margin after recording 30 takeaways.
TV: Noon ET, ESPN. LINE: Florida State -7ABOUT HOUSTON (12-1, 7-1 American Athletic Conference):
Ward, who completed 68.1 percent of his passes for 2,590 yards, 16 TDs and five interceptions, leads FBS quarterbacks with 16 runs of at least 20 yards. Cornerback Brandon Wilson rushed for 181 yards and two scores in two starts in place of the injured Farrow (missed past two games with ankle injury) and Jackson (past four games, collarbone), but the duo returned to practice and should be available New Year's Eve. Demarcus Ayers led the Cougars - who averaged 40.6 points - with 89 catches for 1,140 yards and six touchdowns.
ABOUT FLORIDA STATE (10-2, 6-2 ACC): Sean Maguire (90-of-145 for 1,128 yards, nine touchdowns, two interceptions) prepares to start his first bowl game after replacing Notre Dame transfer Everett Golson - who did not make the trip to Atlanta because of personal reasons - for the second half of the season. Cook has the most rushes of at least 20 yards among FBS running backs (22) while Kermit Whitfield (53 catches for 742 yards, six TDs) and Travis Rudolph (52, 715 yards, six) lead the receivers. Defensive end DeMarcus Walker was tied for second in the ACC with 10.5 sacks while the cornerback duo of Jalen Ramsey and Marquez White provide a solid secondary.
PREDICTION: Florida State 24, Houston 20