Florida State hasn't had much to celebrate for 12 years.
You know that saying, right? "There's a light at the end of the tunnel." Well, we're getting near the end of that tunnel at last. College football starts next Thursday and everyone on ESPN to those on XM College Football Radio have the Seminoles pegged to make a championship run.
They were wrong last year. A Top-Five squad fell out of the Top 25. In 2011, the light at the end of the tunnel was a dream-crushing train of mediocrity.
The Seminoles are ranked seventh this year. We have been disappointed before, but I think the Associated Press might be underestimating the Seminoles as a whole. So the question begs: will the Seminoles find Seventh Heaven in 2012?
The Seminoles have burned me far too many times for me to say that they will live up to their grand expectations. They will not make the national championship game. The offensive line has matured, but like Oklahoma (whose loss at home to Texas Tech is still befuddling), Florida State will lose a game it should win.
Unlike the '80s and early '90s, it won't be Miami.
Virginia Tech will fall as Florida State upends the recent ACC overlord.
And Will Muschamp's Gators are too young to win at Doak Campbell Stadium.
The Seminoles won't lose to even South Florida or fail to gain revenge on Clemson. Who is left?
North Carolina State will shock the Seminoles on the road. Seminole insiders will recall the thorn that NC State is—over the past 10 seasons, Florida State and NC State have split the series 5-5.
Momentum from a three-game win at the tail end of the season quarterback Mike Glennon will lead the Wolfpack to avenge last year's embarrassing shutout at FSU.
Coach Tom O'Brien's team became a stronger cohesive unit towards the end of the season by demolishing a Top-10 Clemson team. The next game N.C. State overcame a 27-point deficit to pound Maryland 56-41.
A bowl win gave a sense that N.C State could be relevant without Russell Wilson. By October, the Wolfpack should have gained experience against the quality talent of Tennessee and Miami to spoil the Seminoles' perfect record.
2005 wasn't a great year. We had Hurricane Katrina, and Florida State really showed it was declining as a football program. Perhaps the one benefit of 2005 was winning the inaugural ACC Championship Game. We haven't won one since.
I believe the Seminoles will play Virginia Tech for it all come December. By this time, the Seminoles will be a Top-5 team and have already beat the Hokies in Blacksburg.
Although I am a huge believer in revenge games, Frank Beamer's atrocious record against the AP Top 25 gives me enough confidence to say lightning will strike twice. E.J. Manuel and the offensive line will have already clicked well enough by now, so the Seminoles will lead the entire football game.
Jimbo Fisher will have one monkey off his back, but a one-loss ACC team will not make the National Championship Game.
Jimbo Fisher will set a school record by winning 13 games in a season. The Seminoles will likely get some Big East team (I say Louisville) that will challenge them for maybe a quarter. The ACC will win its first BCS bowl since 2008, and the Seminoles will finish No. 3—higher than the projected rankings.
By this time in the year, Clint Trickett, Jacob Coker and/or Jameis Winston will have made a case for being the backup quarterback. While E.J. Manuel will leave in style, it will be up to his successor to bring home a Sears Trophy. Can somebody say 2013?
The Seminoles won't win it all in 2012, but for once they will live up to preseason expectations. And before you can run, you have to walk. The next title is coming, but this year the nation will realize FSU is back and here to stay.