Florida State Football: 2011 Season Preview
Florida State had a successful 2010 campaign, especially when considering they finished 7-6 in 2009. They finished the 2010 season with a 10-4 record, a disappointing loss in the ACC Championship game, but a huge bowl win against South Carolina.
Now the expectations are rolling in. With the No. 1–rated recruiting class, Florida State has its sights set on national attention this year and a BCS berth.
The usual suspects such as Miami, Clemson and Florida will all present equal challenges for the Seminoles, and all three teams will be looking to get revenge for the losses to the 'Noles a year ago, but Oklahoma will arguably be Florida State's biggest test.
Last year Florida State went into Norman looking for a huge upset; what they got was a blowout loss that halted the confidence of the revamped Florida State team right in their tracks.
A new year brings new opportunities, and Florida State has every opportunity to surprise the entire country and put forth a dominating year in 2011.
1. University of Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks
The opening game for the 'Noles will be against the University of Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks. The Warhawks finished their 2010 season with a 5-7 record. They finished fifth in the Sun Belt Conference.
This should be an easy task for Florida State, and it will also give new starting quarterback E.J. Manuel time to develop into the starter that he is expected to be. The opening game will also give Florida State fans a glimpse of the future to come.
The top ranked recruiting class isn't expected to be littered with redshirts so top recruits like Karlos Williams, Tim Jernigan, James Wilder and Cornellius Carradine. The opening game will also give a glimpse as to what the season will have in hand, even though it won't be against a tough opponent.
Florida State should handle the Warhawks with ease and cruise to an easy victory.
2. Charleston Southern University Buccaneers
Charleston Southern University is 0-9 against 1-A FBS opponents, don't expect them to get their first win in that category against Florida State. This will be another easy victory for the Seminoles and shouldn't provide any challenges.
Charleston Southern finished 2010 with a 3-8 record and finished tied for last in the Big South Conference. Again this will be seen as a tune-up game for Florida State and should provide another full game of action for this young squad and this will be a huge gear-up game for next week's opponent: Oklahoma.
Florida State will cruise to an easy victory against Charleston Southern University. Don't be surprised to see the offense put up 50+ points and a defensive shutout.
3. Oklahoma Sooners
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If for whatever reason this game hasn't been circled since the eve of last year's blowout loss then there is something wrong. Oklahoma destroyed Florida State last year and had a very successful year with Landry Jones at the helm.
Oklahoma will most likely be the preseason No. 1–ranked team and they deserve it, which gives Florida State more added pressure to perform well in this game. There will be plenty of matchups to look out for. Greg Reid against Ryan Broyles, E.J. Manuel against the Oklahoma defense, Landry Jones against the Florida State defense. The offensive and defensive line matchups and the Stoops against Stoops new rivalry.
This is going to be the game that is going to determine just how far Jimbo Fisher has come in only his second season. He's already sealed the top recruiting class in the country and had a great first season. Now his sights must be set on winning the ACC and making it to a BCS Bowl if not the National Championship game which runs through Oklahoma.
Prediction: Oklahoma 38, Florida State: 35
I just don't think Florida State is quite there yet and they will lose in a heartbreaking loss.
4. Clemson Tigers
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Clemson had an amazing recruiting class and even stole a few recruits away from Florida State including Tony Steward the top linebacker in the country. Last year resulted in a thrilling game coming down to Dustin Hopkins nailing the game winning field goal for the 'Noles; a finish the Tigers haven't forgotten and will be looking for sweet revenge this year.
I already predicted that Florida State would lose against Oklahoma in the game before their match-up with Clemson, so given that fact; they may come out with guns blazing and steal another win against Clemson; or they may come out flat and lose in another close game.
Clemson is a young team and Florida State has struggled historically playing in "Death Valley" and that may be the case again in 2011. On the other hand Florida State will be bringing in more experience and will be looking for a rebound game.
Prediction: Florida State 31, Clemson 24
5. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
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Wake Forest went 3-9 in 2010; all nine losses were in a row. That being said, things aren't going to get easier in 2011. Florida State won 31-0 in last year's contest and 2011 could end up being even worse. Wake Forest isn't exactly the same team they were a few years back when they won the conference and although the ACC has its fair share of surprises, 2011 won't be the year for the Demon Deacons to surprise anyone.
Florida State should handle Wake Forest with ease and cruise to an easy victory.
Prediction: Florida State 45, Wake Forest 7
6. Duke Blue Devils
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For the first time in years, Duke actually has a lot to look forward to. Even though they finished 3-9, they have some nice pieces of the puzzle coming back. Quarterback Sean Renfree has a strong arm and another year in David Cutcliffe's system.
Renfree will have two solid receivers to throw to also in Conner Vernon and Donovan Varner, but they will also be going against Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes. Duke has some bright spots, but not enough to overcome Florida State's offense and defense.
Florida State will have another easy victory against the Blue Devils, but unlike Wake Forest; Duke has a lot to look forward to.
Prediction: Florida State 42, Duke 13
7. Maryland Terrapins
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Maryland may have landed their top prize in the form of a head coach. Randy Edsall had great success at Connecticut. Now he moves into the ACC where he will most likely get better recruits and be playing against better competition.
With that being said his first season isn't going to be easy. They lose wide receiver Torrey Smith, but Danny O'Brien will be back and another year under his belt is only going to make him better. He struggled at times, but he finished the season on a big note against North Carolina State.
Maryland and Florida State had a close contest for most of the game last year and this year won't be any different. If there's one thing to say about Maryland, they provide great competition and this year won't be any different, especially under Edsall.
Although Maryland will be competitive again, Florida State will prove to be too much for them in 2011.
Prediction: Florida State 38, Maryland 21
8. North Carolina State Wolfpack
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Last year Florida State lost in a close game against North Carolina state because of a muffed hand-off by Ty Jones, and the whole Florida State fanbase grieved because of it. Russell Wilson proved to be a thorn in the side of the Seminoles defense and thus prevailed to a huge victory.
This year could provide another large batch of fireworks again. Russell Wilson is back with a nice cast to go against Florida State; the only difference is he will have to travel to Tallahassee to take on the 'Noles, but Florida State could be sitting with just one loss like they were last year against N.C. State.
This will be another huge test for Florida State and with a win it will send them into the driver's seat for the favorite to win the conference.
Prediction: Florida State 28, N.C. State 24
9. Boston College Eagles
Last year Florida State was punched in the mouth by Montel Harris and the rest of the Boston College Eagles, and while they appeared to have the game in order, they still managed to lose 24-19 in a close contest.
Boston College returns arguably the best defensive player in the country in Luke Kuechly, who was a force on the gridiron last year and will again be in 2011. Chase Rettig will again man the quarterback position, but it will be Montel Harris that will carry the Eagles offense.
Florida State will have to travel to Boston for this contest, but at this point in the season they will have things in order and should be able to handle the Eagles in another close contest.
Prediction: Florida State 24, Boston College 18
10. Miami Hurricanes
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Sorry Miami fans, but a win against Florida State will not be coming in 2011. Al Golden was a great hire, but the recruiting class was weak and with huge questions on both side of the ball, Miami just doesn't look to match the talent and experience that Florida State will be bringing.
The main question for Miami will be who is going to start at quarterback? Will Jacory Harris be back to his old self or will Stephen Moore take over? Lamar Miller is a solid running back, but can he carry the load? Travis Benjamin is a nice receiver, but his consistency has to be questioned.
In the end Florida State should be able to win this game, especially since it's a home game for the 'Noles, but Miami always puts up a fight so this isn't a gimme.
Prediction: Florida State 38, Miami 17
11. Virginia Cavaliers
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Virginia's 2010 season can be summed up in one word; deceitful. While they finished 1-7 in the conference, they did put up some fights in some big games. They lost to USC by just three points, but then they dropped the last four games in a row.
They do have a bright spot in Perry Jones at tailback, but besides that they don't exactly have a lot of talent across the board. While they were competitive in some games they were downright awful in others, most notably their 44-10 loss to North Carolina.
On a brighter note Virginia did bring in a nice recruiting class to look forward to in the future, but not in the near future. Florida State will beat Virginia once again, and it won't be as close as last season.
Prediction: Florida State 49, Virginia 14
12. Florida Gators
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Florida State finally ended Florida's winning streak they had on them for the past six season, and they ended up winning huge in Tallahassee, but this year they will be back in the Swamp and Florida still has that top recruiting class from a year ago who will be more experienced.
They also have a new face of the program in Will Muschamp who came over from Texas to replace the "retired" Urban Meyer. Muschamp is used to having great athletes in Texas, but he will now have Florida athletes at his disposal.
Bringing in Charlie Weis as the new offensive coordinator will certainly help to get Florida back to their top-notch offensive ways and John Brantley should benefit greatly from this. Florida has an arsenal of playmakers as always, and they will not have soon forgotten the 31-7 beat down that Florida State gave them last year.
This is always the game of the year for Florida State. Florida has been the bully as of late in this classic rivalry, but with that being said Florida State is now in the driver's seat of the rivalry. Florida State has too much coming back, and by this time in the year they will have far too much riding on this game for them to slip up.
Prediction: Florida State 34, Florida 28
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Florida State has huge expectations for the 2011 season. Jimbo Fisher has this program getting back to their winning ways and bringing in the best recruiting class is going to be huge for the immediate future, but 2011 just doesn't look to be the year that Florida State makes it back to the National Championship.
Oklahoma is a great team that will be standing in their way, but Florida State could and should go undefeated in the ACC and run away with the conference championship.
By the end of the 2011 year Florida State will be going back to a BCS bowl game and will be riding high on another successful year under Jimbo Fisher, one of many during his young career.