Before spring ball. Before two-a-days. Before the official depth chart. Anything can still change before the first kickoff in 2009. But here is a very early preview and analysis of the 2009 Florida State football schedule.
Sept. 7 (Mon/Labor Day) Miami
Miami will be breaking in a new offensive and defensive coordinator in Tallahassee on a Monday night. The last two Labor Day matchups between the 'Noles and the Canes were won by FSU, 10-7 and 13-10.
This game should be the opposite of last year's game, where FSU nearly blew a 24-3 halftime lead to win 41-39. Expect this game to be close until the fourth when FSU's coaching experience allows them to pull away in what will be a hostile environment for the U.
Sept. 12 Jacksonville State
To be played merely five days after the Monday night rivalry game. On paper, FSU should walk over Jacksonville State, but with former LSU standout QB Ryan Perrilloux leading the Jacksonville State offense, this game could be closer than many think. That being said, FSU will prevail with a sound victory.
Sept. 19 at BYU
In one of the more interesting out-of-conference games in 2009, the Seminoles travel out to Provo to meet the 2008 nationally ranked BYU Cougars. The time of this game could have a factor on the Noles, as if the game takes place in prime time in Provo, that could essentially feel like a 10pm kickoff to FSU.
This BYU team brings back many of their star players from a squad that only lost to TCU and Utah in the 2008 regular season. The game could go either way depending how well the new FSU secondary plays when facing BYU's Max Hall.
Sept. 26 USF
USF is another team that will be breaking in new coordinators. USF and FSU will face each other for the first time in what could have a rivalry game atmosphere in Tallahassee, due to the mass of USF fans expected to travel the three hours to FSU.
USF will be well rested for this game after opening their season with Wofford, Western Kentucky and Charleston Southern, while FSU will have already played a major rival and traveled across the country.
Oct. 3 at Boston College
These two teams can only seem to win in each other's stadiums. Since joining the ACC in 2005, Boston College has only beaten FSU in Tallahassee in 2006 and 2008, and FSU has only beaten BC in Chestnut Hill in 2005 and 2007.
This has developed into a rivalry as of lately since FSU knocked off undefeated No. 2 Boston College in 2007 and Boston College spoiled the chances of an FSU ACC divisional title with a win in Tallahassee in 2008.
Oct. 10 Georgia Tech
A fumble into the end zone in Atlanta gave Georgia Tech its first victory over Florida State. FSU had no defensive answer for the triple option and was only in the game when GT's starting QB left the game due to injury.
With GT returning their running backs and QB, this game in Tallahassee could get ugly, real quick. Perhaps, FSU can study the 38-3 Chik-Fil-A rout LSU laid upon GT to learn how to stop the triple option.
Oct. 22 (Thurs) at North Carolina
Thursday night games have always been trap games for FSU. The Noles hope to have ended that streak with a 26-17 win at N.C. State last season on a Thursday night, but UNC will be energized facing FSU on a national stage in their hopes to gain strength in the Coastal Division. This game should be close.
Oct. 31 NC State
Since Chuck Amato was fired as head coach from N.C. State, FSU has been on a two-year win streak.
If talented N.C. State QB Russell Wilson is on his game, expect N.C. State's offense to keep the game interesting, as the Wolfpack had arguably the best second half season in the ACC. This should be the most talented N.C. State offense the FSU defense has faced since Phillip Rivers was the Wolfpack QB.
Nov. 7 at Clemson
Facing Clemson this late in the season is dangerous. Any problems they have in new head coach Dabo Swinney's first full season should be ironed out, and their new starting QB should be fully confident this late in the season.
FSU has not had much luck in Death Valley this decade, but expect the FSU offense to pull the Seminoles away in this one.
Nov. 14 at Wake Forest
Raise your hand if you would ever believed Wake Forest would have a three-year winning streak against FSU, let alone not allowed the Seminoles to score a touchdown in Tallahassee the last two meetings there.
This will be the year FSU ends the streak. Since Alphonso Smith and Aaron Curry graduated, FSU's offense will finally be able to put the pesky Deacs away.
Nov. 21 Maryland
A 38-3 rout by the Seminoles at Maryland last season can only predict how the Seminoles will treat the Terps in Tallahassee this season.
Nov. 28 at Florida
Tebow returns. Spikes returns. If FSU can score more than two touchdowns in the Swamp this game, it'll be considered a positive step.
UF could be in national title contention at this time and won't let their rival get in the way. Let's get back to this when Spikes and Tebow are gone and UF comes back to Tallahassee in 2010.