(I apologize for the lateness of the final installment)
After recovering from a two-year slump of 7-6 seasons, Bobby Bowden looks to leave the program in a strong situation. The main goals this year are to win the ACC Atlantic, and possibly the ACC Title, though neither feat has been accomplished since 2005.
The team has earned preseason rankings in the upper half of the top 25, and should at least live up to that ranking. The pressure is still on Bobby Bowden as he has taken a great deal of heated criticism for the legal mishaps of the team lately. And there is the ever present question of when he will retire.
Bowden will likely not have to worry about the wins race between him and Joe Paterno, as the NCAA seems to be adamant about maintaining that 14 wins from 2006-2007 will be vacated. Also, the university will owe Jimbo Fisher a good deal of money if he is not head coach by the 2011 season.
Due to these factors I expect Bowden will leave after 2010 as long as he feels the program is in a stable situation. This season, Jimbo Fisher is under pressure to continue the improvement of the offense, especially at quarterback considering he has a second year starter and he is the QB coach. Rick Trickett should have the offensive line at a high level of play nationally with all five starters returning.
On defense, Mickey Andrews will be expected to maintain the high level of defensive play despite the numerous personnel losses.
Sept. 7 Miami
Sept. 12 Jacksonville State
Sept. 19 at BYU
Sept. 26 South Florida
Oct. 3 at Boston College
Oct. 10 Georgia Tech
Oct. 22 at North Carolina
Oct. 31 NC State
Nov. 7 at Clemson
Nov. 14 at Wake Forest
Nov. 21 Maryland
Nov. 28 at Florida
Florida State’s schedule includes brutal road games at BYU, Florida and North Carolina on a Thursday night. It has been ranked consistently in the top five as far as difficulty, and the Seminoles will have to maintain a great deal of focus in order to meet their expectations.
I think two traits should help keep FSU on the warpath; tenacity and consistency. The ‘Noles have plenty of the former in coaches like Jimbo Fisher and Chuck Amato, and players like Dekoda Watson, Christian Ponder, and Rodney Hudson. Maintaining consistency, on the other hand, has been difficult for the Seminoles in recent years.
Consistency is the next step in rebuilding this program to its glory days, and should be within grasp this year. If the ‘Noles can maintain reasonable consistency, a 9-3 or even a 10-2 record should be within reach along with an Atlantic Division title.
An ACC title is certainly possible, but considering the Coastal is probably the better of the two divisions this year, it might be the Seminoles’ toughest conference game.
I expect the ‘Noles to lose one non-conference game, most likely to the Florida Gators, and one or two conference games, which will probably come out of the trio of Georgia Tech, North Carolina, or NC State.
As far as postseason expectations, if they don’t manage the Orange Bowl, I’d expect either the Gator or Chick-Fil-A Bowl. The Seminoles of Florida State seem to be headed in the right direction, and after several disappointing years, they appear poised to rise once again to the top echelon of the ACC. Hopefully this will return them to the national discussion, which they were in so often.