Last year I predicted FSU would finish in the 11-3 range, and I was close. The big miss was Oklahoma, as I really thought they were ready. They were not. This year is different though. After a few great recruiting classes, the Noles seem poised to step back into the national spotlight. I said this about the team’s future prospects last summer:
So that brings us to 10-2, heading to the ACC title game. FSU should lose to VT in that game, and the Noles are a total Jekyll/Hyde sort of team in bowl games, so we could possibly see the season end on a 3 game losing streak. Still, 10-4 or 11-3 seems attainable to me in what is essentially the dawn of the next era of FSU football. I think that next year FSU re-enters the national picture again, but this year is just a bit of buildup for that. The offense is back, and once the defense gets back to the levels they’re capable of, FSU will be an ACC and national power again.
I stand by that, and feel like this is the year that national attention is given early and often to the rising stars in Tallahassee.
Where to start? FSU is absolutely loaded with talent and depth at every position imaginable. For me, the real standouts are going to be the defensive line and secondary, two areas that were feast or famine last year. Returning are a boatload of blue chippers who have grown up mentally and especially physically and are ready to simply dominate teams. EJ Manuel is the rising Junior QB who is a dark horse Heisman contender, and is flanked by a super deep stable of running backs, wideouts and tight ends. The offensive linemen, especially both tackles, are All-American contenders.
Again, just simply stacked everywhere. Watch out for LaMarcus Joyner on D, and Nick O’Leary on offense.
The offensive line is having trouble staying healthy. Chris Thompson, last year’s leading rusher, has had some back issues. That’s about it.
Louisiana-Monroe Body bag game. ULM, a Sun Belt team that should have some young talent, won’t be any match for FSU. I just can’t imagine how ULM keeps this game very close. Not only are the Noles going to be bigger, faster and stronger than ULM, I fully expect the team to focus of jumping out fast to get some of the younger guys game experience. I’m not sure it’ll be like some of the early games from last year where the final score was nearly 60-3, but I’m going to say FSU rolls. Backups in the 3rd quarter. FSU wins by 35+.
Charleston Southern Let’s face it, you could copy and paste what I wrote above to this section. The only difference is the game with Oklahoma looming. Maybe they take their eyes off of this game a bit. FSU wins by 24.
Oklahoma I’m still not sure how I feel about this game. Last year I said FSU would win a close one. I was dead wrong, and it was one of the only games I really considered turning off multiple times. Just a brutal showing in every phase of the game. I’m still not sure about this game, although I do feel like it’s going to be much closer than last time. Oklahoma tends to roll early in the season and then blow a night road game late in the year. This is not that game. OU has so many weapons and a fantastic quarterback in Landry Jones, who is a legit Heisman contender. Throw in one of the top WR units in the nation and the stacked FSU defense is going to be tested early and often, and I’m not sure they’ll be able to hang for the entire game.
The pressure will really be on FSU to control tempo early, get first downs, and get points. I feel like this game could go either way, but it’ll be interesting to see which defense does enough to win this game. I’m picking Oklahoma – but if FSU in fact wins this game, they’re going to the national title game. Mark it down. Oklahoma by 3.
@ Clemson Let down alert! IF the Noles were to win the game the week before, it’ll be a huge test to go on the road to one of the tougher stadiums to play in. It’ll be a huge test regardless of course, but the ACC scheduling gods were frowning on the boys from Tallahassee when they put together this one-two punch. On to the Tigers, though. Ex-Tulsa coach Chad Morris heads up the Clemson offense, and Tulsa was absolutely insane to watch last year. The 2010 squad ranted in the top 10 scoring, and the top 5 in yards – and folks expect that to translate to Clemson’s offense this year. Tajh Boyd is the new starting quarterback, and he’s a dual threat guy who could give fits to less athletic teams. With that said, I’m pretty confident that FSU will be able to dominate in the trenches on both sides of the ball, and that should be the difference in the ball game. Despite the potential for a let down, I think the Noles will win fairly comfortably. FSU wins by 13.
@ Wake Forest And now, cruise control. Wake Forest is coming off of their second consecutive losing season, and the cupboard is starting to look bare for the Deacons. This matchup will be a good opportunity to get into a rhythm for a few easy games before some key ACC games. FSU wins by 21.
@ Duke Copy, paste. FSU wins by 21+.
Maryland Big game here. Danny O’Brien is a talented QB and FSU could easily have lost the game to the Terps last year. Both teams have improved since last year, FSU with their talent maturing and Maryland with a new coaching staff who will demand sound fundamentals on every single play. I think this game will be a scary one, with FSU winning late – maybe a field goal deciding the contest. FSU wins by 3.
NC State Revenge for a game FSU really should have won last year. Driving at the end of the contest, Ponder fumbled a play-action at the end of the game to blow it. NCSt has a lot of veteran starters and are well coached – I’ve always been a fan of Tom O’Brien teams. However, they’re not super talented on defense and their special teams appear to be a weakness. FSU will be too much. FSU wins by 10.
@ Boston College Thursday night with no week off before the game … the ACC scheduling gods are back at it. It’ll come down to which team is ready to play. BC is no slouch but they just don’t have the talent to hang for 4 quarters. FSU wins by 13.
Miami If UM still has a a team to field, this game would be less than a TD between the teams. Lots of senior talent on this team, and if they are all out there, it could be a lot closer than my prediction. However, I’m not counting on it. FSU wins by 13.
Virginia This is the last home game of the year for what could be an undefeated FSU team. UVA is getting some great recruits and slowly rebuilding their team, but this isn’t the year for them. This is possibly the easiest home game of the year other than the first 2 patsies. FSU wins by 21.
@ Florida Yeah, Florida is down. Guess what, they still are absolutely loaded with blue chippers at every position. If this game were earlier in the year, I could see FSU winning by a few TDs – but this is both team’s final game of the regular season and I think they’ll have figured out the new offensive and defensive schemes that coaches Muschamp and Weis are adding. A lot will be on the line for this game, and FSU will have a ton to play for on the road against a very tough opponent. FSU in a squeaker. FSU wins by less than 3.
The ACC schedule looks like a cakewalk, and I realistically can see FSU winning the ACC with 1 loss to a non conference opponent and going to a BCS bowl game. This team is for real, and they’re still very young everywhere except the offensive line. Expect great things this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you saw the Noles in the national championship conversation this year, next year, and for years to come.