FSU fans have a lot to look forward to in the upcoming season.
Despite coming off a somewhat disappointing 2011 season where the Seminoles went 9-4, FSU fans like myself should be excited for what the 2012 season has in store. With Jimbo Fisher entering his third year as head coach, EJ Manuel entering his senior season, and another elite recruiting class walking through the gates of Doak Campbell Stadium, the stage is set for Florida State to re-emerge as one of the elite programs in college football.
The 2012 schedule promises FSU fans a fair share of intriguing matchups as the Seminoles approach a season with deservedly high expectations. Without further ado, here's the power rankings of all 12 regular season games by level of intrigue.
Exit West Virginia, enter Savannah State.
Oh, what could have been.
This season was supposed to feature the first of a two-game series vs. the West Virginia Mountaineers. Fans were expected to pack Doak Campbell Stadium for what would have certainly been a primetime matchup.
Unfortunately, upon West Virginia's department from the Big East and arrival to the Big 12, the Mountaineers cancelled their game with the Seminoles. FSU and the city of Tallahassee will not only be missing out on a great matchup, but a lot of money as well.
Enter Savannah State to serve as West Virginia's replacement. In 2011, the Tigers went 1-11 as a member of the MEAC. Yikes.
Seminole fans can breathe easy. This one should be over by halftime.
FSU opens the season with FCS Murray State.
This would be a great matchup for a basketball game. However, it is not.
Florida State opens the season at home against the Murray State Racers in their other game against an FCS opponent.
The Racers posted a respectable 7-4 record last year as a member of the Ohio Valley Conference, but will simply be too outmatched to give the Seminoles a contest. This, along with the game against Savannah State, should serve as good tune-up games before FSU gets into conference play.
Coaching legend Bobby Bowden will be making his return to Doak Campbell Stadium for the first time since stepping down at the end of the 2009 season, and will be honored at halftime as he's inducted into the FSU Hall of Fame.
Duke hasn't been good in quite some time.
FSU students and fans will be treated to a matchup with the lowly Duke Blue Devils for their Homecoming game.
Maybe "treated" is the wrong word, as Duke hasn't been relevant in football in a very, very long time. Seemingly every year there are preseason rumblings of Duke getting over the hump and making it back to a bowl game, but they've yet to do so since 1995.
Last year's installment of the Blue Devils went 3-9, including a 41-16 loss to the Seminoles in Durham, which turned out to be the start of a seven game losing streak to end Duke's season.
This game shouldn't give Seminole fans much to be intrigued about.
The Eagles shouldn't pose much of a threat to the Seminoles.
To begin the latter half of their football season, the Seminoles host the Boston College Eagles on October 13th.
Saying Boston College had a down year in 2011 would be an understatement, as they went 4-8, including a 38-7 loss to Florida State in frigid Chestnut Hill. They struggled all year on the offensive side of the ball, ranking 112th in the nation in points per game.
This bodes well for the Seminoles, as their defense, which ranked 4th in the nation in points allowed per game during the 2011 season, should only get better in 2012.
To make matters worse for Boston College, they lost star linebacker and three time first-team All-American Luke Kuechly to the NFL.
Florida State shouldn't have any problems with the Eagles.
The 'Noles travel to Maryland in mid-November.
Despite finishing 2011 with an even worse record than the two teams I mentioned previously, including a 41-16 loss to FSU, the Maryland Terrapins should make for a slightly more intriguing game.
Last year's quarterback controversy is behind the Terrapins, and with Randy Edsall entering his second year with the program, Maryland should get better.
A characteristic all elite teams in college football have is the poise to beat teams on the road, especially lesser talented teams, which the Terrapins are in this case.
The Seminoles shouldn't have much trouble in this contest, but it will be interesting to see how FSU handles a Maryland team that at this point in the season may be playing for nothing more than pride.
FSU fans will be looking for revenge against Wake Forest.
Florida State will open ACC play in 2012 at home against Wake Forest, and Seminole fans will hope revenge is what the doctor ordered.
Regardless of the injuries FSU was dealing with last year following tough losses to Oklahoma and Clemson in the two previous games, there was no excuse to lose to Wake Forest. The defeat signified the low point of a disappointing season. The offense couldn't hold onto the ball and the defense was exposed.
The Seminoles have had a tough time with the Demon Deacons in their recent history, losing four of the last six matchups. Another loss to Wake Forest would look really bad for the program, and FSU can't let it happen.
FSU needs to play this game with an eager desire to exact revenge.
FSU will meet NC State for an early October battle in Raleigh.
Don't be fooled; the 34-0 thwacking the Seminoles placed on the Wolfpack last season isn't likely to repeat itself this season when FSU goes up to Raleigh in early October.
The most intriguing matchup will take place between NC State quarterback Mike Glennon and the Florida State secondary. Glennon is coming off a season where he threw 28 touchdowns to 11 interceptions, and will have a great chance to emerge this year as one of the ACC's top quarterbacks.
If the talented FSU secondary can force Glennon into some mistakes, the Seminoles should have a great chance to break this game open. If they don't, the Wolfpack has more than enough to make this game a close one.
FSU will meet BJ Daniels and the USF Bulls in late September.
In 2009, the USF Bulls went up to Tallahassee and stunned the Seminoles, 17-7. Three years later, the Seminoles will head down to Tampa in hopes of seeking revenge.
South Florida has built a solid football program over the years, and the Bulls have hopes of soon making the Florida Big Three (FSU, UF, UM) the Big Four. Another win against the Seminoles would help.
The big matchup in this one will be in the trenches. Each team finished last season in the top 15 in sacks. The Florida State offensive line struggled throughout 2011 and will face a tough test with USF. This game will likely be decided by whose defensive line can get the most pressure on the opposing quarterback.
In addition, this could shape up to be the most anticipated USF home game in program history, and the Seminoles should expect a raucous crowd down in Tampa.
The rivalry continues in Miami on October 20th.
This rivalry may not be what it once was in the early '90s and '00s, but a true Seminole or Hurricane marks this game on their calendar every year regardless.
The Seminoles have owned the rivalry in recent years, winning five of the past seven matchups. While FSU looks to continue their dominance, coach Al Golden will be looking for a signature win in his second year with the Miami program.
For the Hurricanes to have a chance in this one they'll have to get a big contribution from their ground game. They finished 80th in the nation in rushing offense last season and now lose their star running back, Lamar Miller, to the NFL. Florida State, on the other hand, brings back many of the key pieces that gave them one of the most suffocating rushing defenses in the country.
Regardless of whether or not the Hurricanes can give the Seminoles a good game, we're sure to see plays like this that make you jump out of your seat.
The FSU-UF rivalry ensues in late November.
The next installment in one of college football's most heated rivalries will take place November 24. Florida State has regained control of the rivalry, winning the past two years by a combined score of 52-14.
Much like last year's game, this season's showdown will be a defensive battle. The Gators are still trying to figure out an offensive identity, while the Seminoles offense, regardless of potential improvements, should still be behind the defense. EJ Manuel should have a significant advantage over whoever the Gators start at quarterback.
Coming on the last week of the regular season like it always does, fans of both teams will be looking to win a year's worth of bragging rights over their instate rivals. Of course, FSU fans will be hoping this is the last win before an ACC championship game appearance, with maybe something even bigger to follow that.
Florida State and Virginia Tech meet for a huge game in Blacksburg on November 8th.
While some of you may think this game should be at the top of the list, I have the Seminoles' matchup with the Virginia Tech Hokies at number two on my most intriguing games.
The biggest game on ESPN's Thursday night lineup for the 2012 season, the Seminoles and Hokies face off in what will have big implications in the ACC race and possibly the national championship picture as well. As two defensive juggernauts go head to head, it won't be surprising if neither team can break the 20 point mark.
This game also features two of the most athletic quarterbacks in the country in EJ Manuel and Logan Thomas. In a game with two elite defenses that could prove to be even, I look for the quarterbacks to settle the score. Whichever quarterback is able to make a few more game-changing plays than the other is likely to emerge victorious.
It should be a great one at what's sure to be an electric Lane Stadium.
FSU vs. Clemson on September 22nd is my most intriguing game for the Seminoles' 2012 regular season.
Barely edging out the game against Virginia Tech, this year's matchup with Clemson is No. 1 on my list of most intriguing games for the Seminoles in 2012.
In what is likely to be a primetime game, the winner of this showdown will not only have a stranglehold on the ACC Atlantic division, but will also emerge as a legitimate national championship contender.
The matchup that's being looked forward to by not only Florida State and Clemson fans, but general college football fans as well, is the one between the Tiger offense and the Seminole defense. Led by Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins, Clemson's offense looked unstoppable throughout much of last year. Florida State, on the other hand, was extremely stout on the defensive end. Clemson got the better end of the matchup last season en route to a 35-30 victory.
All eyes in Doak Campbell Stadium will be on Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins. As one of the most electrifying players in college football, the Seminoles will be in serious trouble if he has another performance similar to the one he had last year against Florida State (7 catches, 141 yard, 2 TDs).
The 'Noles will also need help from their running game, which struggled mightily last season, including just 29 yards in the Clemson game.
If FSU can keep the Clemson offense under control and get quality production out of their running game, the Seminoles will be in contention for a huge early season win that could set the tone for a big rest of the year.