Florida State Football: Tough Games Seminoles Fans Should Worry About the Most
Many predict perfect weather for Florida State next year. But are the gods correct?
FSU is primed to do well, given its great recruiting classes. Jimbo Fisher is entering his third year as head coach, so the players are experienced with him both as an offensive coordinator and head coach. In addition, this year's schedule is pretty lightweight: the Seminoles play two FCS teams.
But even the smoothest of seas can have its squalls, and many campaigns are derailed by foes the team should have taken more seriously.
How about playing in Tampa against USF? While the Bulls upset big-name programs, one can't help that the Seminoles have already lost to the Bulls in Bobby Bowden's last season. This group of seniors will make sure they avenge such a harsh loss. FSU should win since it is a more successful program than USF.
What opposition can derail the Tomahawk team's perfect year? Visiting N.C. State in Raleigh could be an issue, especially given the Seminoles' 34-0 shutout last year. The Wolfpack have a great quarterback in Mike Glennon and beat Clemson last year. Fortunately, the Seminoles will be on their toes. They'll be ready for the road by then, having confidence from their USF win the week before.
So, we've narrowed out two suspects. Who's left?
Injuries helped cripple the 'Noles against the Tigers in Death Valley.
Florida State's loss at Clemson relinquished the Seminoles' dreams of ACC dominance. It wasn't the 1990s again.
Dabo Swinney had young talent such as quarterback Tajh Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins last year. The duo of doom should only mature in 2012. The defense, which was leaky last year, will have a new coach in former Oklahoma Sooners defensive coordinator Brent Venables. The Tigers are also one of a few teams that can recruit near FSU's elite level. Sounds like a winning formula, huh?
But what's against the Tigers? First, they play at Doak Campbell Stadium. Also, the Seminoles will be healthy, as they won't be coming off a game against Oklahoma. And finally, there is the revenge factor that will likely propel the Seminoles to victory.
Despite preparations, the Hurricanes fell at FSU.
Miami's curse over Florida State dies slowly.
But that doesn't mean it's gone. The Seminoles are playing at Miami Gardens, but they shouldn't have such an easy victory this time. Al Golden is one of the better coaches in college football, turning around an abysmal Temple program. Though Miami had a sub-par season last year, everyone knows the program was in trouble with the NCAA. Such a talent like Golden will return Miami to the pinnacle of football.
The question is, when?
My prediction is 2014, when the Seminoles will play in the 'Canes backyard again. With such a frazzled last year, 2012 would be how Miami should have performed if the Nevin Shapiro scandal didn't affect the team. Don't be surprised if FSU has its smallest margin of victory in Miami, but expect a W.
At Virginia Tech
The Hokies haven't faced the Seminoles since the 2010 ACC Championship Game.
Virginia Tech has been the toast of the ACC since 2005, claiming three ACC Championships.
The problem is, though, that Virginia Tech can't win the high-profile games. They are 2-6 in BCS bowls, where they play competition that equals the Seminoles' caliber. Let's name the Hokies' losses: 2007 to Les Miles' LSU team in Baton Rouge, 2008 against non-BCS East Carolina, 2009 to Nick Saban and Alabama in Atlanta. Then in 2010, they lost at home to an FCS team, James Madison.
ESPN explained: "Virginia Tech is the second ranked team to lose to a lower division team. The first was No. 5 Michigan, which fell 34-32 to I-AA Appalachian State on Sept. 1, 2007." The second school to ever lose to a lower division team.
At least they play the big games.
There are quite a few more examples I could use from the past decade, but let's focus on what happened the last time Virginia Tech hosted a top-class ACC team in Blacksburg. Now let's watch their rematch for the ACC Championship. I don't like to say that a past performance indicates future success, but the Hokies haven't been able to win the big one.
Frank Beamer is a great coach for getting Virginia Tech to be relevant regionally, but they haven't beaten anyone of note since Miami in 2003.
Basic translation: the Seminoles might have a tough time with Bud Foster's excellent defense, but they will ultimately win.
Florida should improve under Will Muschamp in Year Two.
Jimbo Fisher's oldest friend could be his worst nightmare.
The most obvious advantage goes to the Seminoles. Playing on FSU's turf will provide advantage against a battered Florida team.
The issue is that Fisher and Will Muschamp know each other's way of thinking. Even if they've put wrinkles in their old schematics, these guys worked together at Auburn, then at LSU under Nick Saban.
Now that the Gators' recruiting classes are again rising, Florida State just can't help but watch out.
It doesn't matter what year the game is played. What matters is that both teams are dangerous.
Expect a Seminole victory against an embryonic Florida squad, but this will be a knife fight to the bitter end.