We continue our series with the Florida State Seminoles.
Best / Worse Case Record for :
Some would call a 10-3 football season a stellar performance, especially considering the Noles found themselves the victors over a veteran Michigan Wolverines in the Orange Bowl. But to many Seminoles, victory was bittersweet. A young but talented Seminoles offense, spearheaded by arguably the greatest running back in Florida State history, fell short to a surging Louisville defense. Meanwhile, a lackluster defensive performance against the Cardinals and North Carolina all but sealed their fate as a distant memory in the Playoff discussion. 2016 was to be the year where Dalvin Cook would hoist the College Football Playoff trophy, but alas, an Orange Bowl victory over Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines would have to suffice. All the while, Clemson surged to the forefront of the ACC as the undisputed king over it’s fellow members, dethroning the Alabama Crimson Tide as the new National Champions of College Football.
An off-season has come and gone, and Florida State is poised to make another run for the College Football Playoff. Despite Dalvin Cook taking his leave for the NFL green, Florida State returns a veteran roster of running backs, including elite talent Jacques Patrick and incoming freshman Cam Akers. With Deondre Francois returning to helm as an elite Quarterback, the Wide Receiver talent, despite a poor showing in 2016, is slim but ready for a breakout season. Coupled with elite Tight End receivers, the Seminole passing game and rushing attack can be elite.
The path to a potentially historic season is littered with challenges, the most immediate threat being the Alabama Crimson Tide. Can Florida State overcome it’s shortcomings and announce to the world that they are, once again, kings of the ACC and the College Football landscape?
Will Go 12-0 (8-0) if:
The offensive line develops into the unit it’s talent dictates it should be. There is little doubt that Florida State’s defensive unit, lead by Derwin James, will prove to be the greatest asset to the 2017 team, at least in the early portion of the schedule. However, given the precarious lack of quarterback depth behind Deondre Francois, it is imperative that the offensive line shores up and minimizes sacks on the quarterback (34 sacks in 2016). Preventing injury will be critical (as it is with all rosters), yet if the offensive line develops into the talented unit it can be, there is little doubt that Florida State can produce a dynamic and lethal offensive attack both through the air and in their run game. If Florida State overcomes Alabama (which it can), there is little doubt that Florida State can dominate the remaining opponents on their schedule.
While Miami might prove to be a challenging foe defensively, they lack a experienced quarterback to lead their offense and have to play in Tallahassee. NC State might also prove a challenge defensively, however the edge would go to the Seminoles given the history of Wolfpack performance in Doak Campbell stadium. Clemson faces a rebuilding year after their historic run at the College Football Playoff, and with a freshman quarterback taking charge, the Seminoles have every tool necessary to silence the Tigers in Death Valley. Louisville, the only remaining foe that would present a challenge to Jimbo Fisher’s team, is firmly in the crosshairs of the program. This season, Louisville must overcome the Seminoles in a hostile atmosphere and without an entire off-season to prepare.
I don’t even need to make a case for the Seminoles over the lizards of Gainesville.
This outcome would place Florida State in the ACC Championship game as the Atlantic Division winner, and solidify the Seminoles as kings of the ACC once again. With dominant performances over an undoubtedly elite Alabama, revenge over Louisville, and a rebuilding Clemson, Florida State would find itself squarely in the drivers seat (even with a loss in the ACC Championship game) for a berth in the fourth College Football Playoff.
Will Go 8-4 (5-3) if:
The offensive line is exposed, preventing offensive plays from developing. Deondre Francois cannot have another season of hits like he took last season. If he goes down, so too will any hopes of making the Playoff. Even if Deondre doesn’t sustain a season-ending (or even multi-week) injury, the Seminoles can still be rendered immobile along the offensive front if the passing game is subdued by defensive units. If Deondre Francois is running for his life, routes will break down and chaos will ensue.
Alabama will feast upon Florida State, while the Clemson tigers will notch a third straight win over the Seminoles in the roar of Death Valley. You could also lock a win in for Louisville, as you would expect their defense to shore up enough effort to allow Lamar Jackson the means to plug the points for the Cardinals over the Seminoles. Finally, a surprise team would take down Florida State in this projection: NC State has the defensive man-power to overwhelm an exposed offensive line, and with a veteran quarterback in Jalan McClendon, there is little doubt that FSU could falter to the Atlantic dark-horse.
While defensively there is little doubt that Florida State will remain elite, a team that can’t score points would be destined for losses, and against the nation’s elite defensive units, the Seminoles would be exposed. In this hypothetical, an 8-4 season would result in heads rolling in Tallahassee, questions brewing about Jimbo Fisher’s future, and the Seminoles’ place in the ACC as second-fiddle to Clemson. Despite this, Florida State would remain in-state champions, securing their future as a perennial power in the state, leading to another top-ten recruiting haul. This record would also place the Seminoles in a 2nd-tier Bowl-berth.