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Florida State Football: Final Game-by-Game Schedule Predictions

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Florida State Football: Final Game-by-Game Schedule Predictions
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Can Jameis Winston and Jimbo Fisher repeat as national champs? The 'Noles have the talent, and the schedule is favorable.

Florida State just has to do one better. 

The Seminoles, the 2013 national champions after a 14-0 season, are looking to repeat. And they have to do it by going 15-0—one more obstacle required because of the new College Football Playoff.

Will FSU repeat as national champion?

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FSU's schedule is tougher certainly than the 2013 version that included Bethune-Cookman, Nevada and Idaho. This fall, FSU will face Oklahoma State and Notre Dame in nonconference games (Florida is the one consistent nonconference opponent on the Seminoles' schedule).

Can FSU repeat? Definitely. The Seminoles are loaded with talent and have just a few question marks going into the season opener. And the schedule sets up well, giving FSU a bye week—and extra time to prepare—before games against Clemson in September and Louisville in October.

Let's take a look at FSU's 2014 schedule:

 

Oklahoma State, Aug. 30 (at Arlington, Texas)

Key stat: 29. The Cowboys lost 29 seniors, and it's tough to replace that experience and leadership.

Analysis: The Cowboys love to pass—they threw for 3,599 yards last season. Nobody defends the pass better than FSU, which led the nation by allowing just 156 passing yards per game in 2013. Oklahoma State loses its top two receivers in Tracy Moore and Josh Stewart, but there is plenty of talent returning—not to mention electric junior college transfer Tyreek Hill. FSU has the depth to adjust after losing All-American corner Lamarcus Joyner and safety Terrence Brooks. The Seminoles defensive backs, led by corners Ronald Darby and P.J. Williams and safeties Jalen Ramsey and Nate Andrews, should have their hands full in what will be a good early test. But FSU will pass the test.

Predicted winner: FSU

 

The Citadel, Sept. 6

Key stat: $440,000. That's the guarantee that The Citadel will receive to play the Seminoles (according to FSU records).

Analysis: Since Jimbo Fisher took over as FSU's coach in 2010, the Seminoles have demolished Football Championship Subdivision teams. In 2013, it was a lightning-shortened 54-6 win over Bethune-Cookman. Fans will get to see plenty of backup quarterback Sean Maguire; he'll lead the second-team offense as this game will be out of reach early.

Predicted winner: FSU

 

Clemson, Sept. 20

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Key stat: 11,904. The number of passing yards by now graduated quarterback Tajh Boyd in his Clemson career.

Analysis: This fall will be a big adjustment for Clemson as the Tigers move on to life without Boyd and playmaking receiver Sammy Watkins. But Cole Stoudt has thrown for eight touchdowns (and just one interception) with a 72 percent completion percentage. This would be a much better game if it were scheduled for October or November. But with FSU coming off a bye week and Clemson still putting the pieces together on offense, expect FSU to put this game out of reach in the second half.

Predicted winner: FSU

 

at N.C. State, Sept. 27

Key stat: 0. Number of ACC wins for the Wolfpack in 2013.

Analysis: The Wolfpack are in Year 2 of the rebuilding effort under coach Dave Doeren. N.C. State will be much better—and will win ACC games—now that former Florida quarterback Jacoby Brissett is eligible to play after sitting out 2013. Brissett is very good, but he won't be able to single-handedly carry the Wolfpack. The Wolfpack have a steady receiver in Bryan Underwood, but they simply don't have enough talent surrounding Brissett to pull off an upset. And no, FSU's players haven't forgotten the stunning 17-16 loss at N.C. State in October 2012.

Predicted winner: FSU

 

Wake Forest, Oct. 4

Key stat: 14. The Demon Deacons ranked 14th (last) in the ACC in total offense in 2013.

Analysis: Wake managed very little on offense, but 2014 could be bleak. The Demon Deacons lose their quarterback (Tanner Price), leading receiver (Michael Campanaro) and top rusher (Josh Harris). FSU has defeated Wake 59-3 and 52-0 the past two seasons. It may be that ugly again in a game where FSU will surely be playing its backups after halftime.

Predicted winner: FSU

 

at Syracuse, Oct. 11

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Key stat: 7-4. After a rocky two weeks to open 2013 in which Syracuse lost to Penn State and Northwestern, Terrel Hunt took over as starter and led the Orange to wins in seven of their final 11 games.

Analysis: Hunt is a dangerous, dual-threat quarterback who could present some problems for FSU, especially when considering the supporting cast. Syracuse brings back tailback Prince-Tyson Gulley along with receivers Ashton Broyld, Jarrod West and Brisly Estime. The Seminoles need to make sure they are not looking ahead to Notre Dame. 

Predicted winner: FSU

 

Notre Dame, Oct. 18

Key stat: 15. Following the academic scandal that impacts four players, Notre Dame's leading returning receiver is Chris Brown with 15 catches in 2013.

Analysis: This game could be a showdown of top-10 teams. Or maybe not. Only time will tell how much the academic fraud investigation, first reported by Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports, will affect Notre Dame. Losing three projected starters—receiver DaVaris Daniels, cornerback KeiVarae Russell, defensive end Ishaq Williams—in August is significant. And it's underscored by the fact that Notre Dame was returning just nine starters. Still, the return of quarterback Everett Golson puts plenty of excitement into the offense and this pivotal game.

Predicted winner: FSU

 

at Louisville, Oct. 30

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Louisville WR DeVante Parker

Key stat: 12. Number of years since Louisville upset FSU in the rain on a Thursday night in 2002. The teams again play on a Thursday this season.

Analysis: Replacing quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is no easy task, but coach Bobby Petrino returns to Louisville and has a talent in 6'5'', 230-pound Will Gardner. And Louisville has a star in receiver DeVante Parker (55 catches, 885 receiving yards, 8 TDs). Petrino loves to air it out. And FSU defends the pass well. Give Fisher an extra week to break down game film of Louisville (which also has a bye going into the game), and FSU should win this one on the road.

Predicted winner: FSU

 

Virginia, Nov. 8

Key stat: 6. Wins the last two seasons for the Cavaliers.

Analysis: The hot seat is scalding for coach Mike London. But the years of recruiting success have helped bring the Cavaliers 5-star recruits like Taquan Mizzell and Andrew Brown. Virginia has a workhorse running back in Kevin Parks (1,031 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns), but if the Cavaliers aren't more consistent in the passing game, FSU will win this one going away.

Predicted winner: FSU

 

at Miami, Nov. 15

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Key stat: 49 percent. That was quarterback Jake Heaps' completion percentage in 2013 at Kansas before he transferred to Miami.

Analysis: It remains to be seen who Miami will start at quarterback three months from now. And coach Al Golden could change starters once or twice between now and then. But if the job goes to the veteran Heaps, he must make better decisions. The Hurricanes have a star in tailback Duke Johnson and a rising talent in receiver Stacy Coley. Heaps needs to be smart and put the ball in the hands of the Hurricanes' playmakers. But the defense must also be better. And it should be. Is Miami's defense good enough to force FSU to punt? The Hurricanes haven't been able to do that, as Fisher is 4-0 vs. Miami since taking over as head coach in 2010.

Predicted winner: FSU

 

Boston College, Nov. 22

Key stat: 2,177. Rushing yards from 2013 lost when Andre Williams graduated.

Analysis: Tyler Murphy is a capable one-year transfer replacement for BC after the Eagles lost Chase Rettig to graduation. But Murphy must perform better than he did for the Gators—three INTs in a loss to Vanderbilt and a 44.8 completion percentage in a loss to Georgia. If he's learned from his mistakes, BC could again push for a bowl game even without an experienced back on the roster. This is a reasonably soft game for FSU going into the regular-season finale against Florida.

Predicted winner: FSU

 

Florida, Nov. 29

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Florida QB Jeff Driskel

Key stat: 18. The number of key players the Gators lost to injury during the 2013 season, according to ESPN.com's Jeff Barlis.

Analysis: Florida won't go 4-8 again. And Georgia Southern isn't on the schedule. How much better will the Gators be? That's a tough one to answer, but new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper's spread attack will be better suited for quarterback Jeff Driskel. If he's comfortable in the system, the offensive line improves and the receivers develop, Florida should win seven or eight games. And the defense will again be one of the nation's best. But will the defense be good enough against FSU? The Seminoles racked up 456 offensive yards, including 327 passing yards, in a 37-7 rout last November.

Predicted winner: FSU

Bob Ferrante is the Florida State Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bob on Twitter. All recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.

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