Florida State Football: 10 Bold Predictions for the Upcoming 2011-12 Season
The sleeping giant has awakened—FSU football is back, and as an incoming freshman I couldn't be happier to be there. After all, Chief Osceola's players are coming off their first 10-win season in over half a decade and the 'Noles recently hauled in the number one recruiting class. A 14-year run of top five finishes might not be in the cards, but that doesn't mean that in a few years a perfect record is off the table.
Florida State is not No. 1 material yet—Jimbo Fisher's crew, though, will produce a pivotal season in the history of Seminoles football. They will prove that the revival is not just another one-year wonder, and there are 10 reasons why the 'Noles will be the most entertaining team you'll see on and off the sidelines.
Greg Reid Will Be ACC Defensive Player of the Year
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Cornerback Greg Reid has wowed us 'Nole fans for two years now. He is as elusive as a ghost on the field, and from time to time reminds alumni of the legendary Deion Sanders. This season, he will make a breakthrough from being some kid in the ACC to a nationally recognized talent in prime time games. For the doubters, they can look no further than Reid's pivotal performance as the Defensive MVP of the Chick-fil-A Bowl. In that game alone, the rising junior had five tackles, four pass breakups, and two forced fumbles. In addition, he made a single season FSU rush record on punt returns. Perhaps most important, Reid has experience: since stepping on campus, he has played in every game since 2009 and was a starter for all 14 games last year. In my opinion, this is a slight shocker because typically a Virginia Tech player would be the favorite.
Florida State Will (Almost) Beat the Oklahoma Sooners
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Yes, a lot of people saw this as a possible upset last year, and we all know about the 30-point margin defeat that obliterated FSU's chances of reemerging as a national titlist. What makes this year different, though, is that—just like Greg Reid—18 starters return to take their positions. Having the game not in Norman will greatly increase the 'Noles chance at the (as of now) unthinkable win, and the overall defense leaped from the hundreds to 40th overall. Having Bob Stoops' brother as defensive coordinator also helps our odds. As mentioned earlier, Greg Reid will be a huge playmaker and keep Florida State in the contest until the fourth quarter. But take heart, Seminoles fans! This game will prove we have stock nationally; the days of being a 7-6 doormat are long over.
Prediction: Oklahoma 31, FSU 30
Florida State Will Post Best ACC Record Since 2003
Image of a bygone era...that will soon return!
Grant Halverson/Getty Images
One of the brightest signs of FSU's resurrection last year was their success in conference play. Although N.C. State had to lose a tight game with Maryland for the Seminoles to punch their ACC Championship Game tickets, the promise was there. Jimbo Fisher had his players in a position to be successful.
In spite of last year's remarkable turnaround, FSU hasn't finished 7-1 in conference since 2003, the last time when they had a grip on the conference championship. With the talent, the puke-like performance last year's Clemson Tigers (the 'Noles only in-division competition that always recruit at the elite game-breakers), and the convenient absence of Virginia Tech on their schedule, FSU is going to making waves all through conference competition.
FSU Will Lose to Boston College
Most readers are pondering why I said Florida State would post its best record since 2003 in the ACC when I could've used their 8-0 conference record in 2000. The reason why they will lose a game in conference is due to lack of experience. After all, four conference games were decided by under a touchdown in 2010. But why Boston College, and not another team?
The answer is simple. BC's schedule sets up uniquely—when Florida State visits Chestnut Hill, it will be the Eagles' first home game in over a month. The home crowd will obviously be on their side to greet the Seminoles, who will have traveled away from home for the first time in two weeks. The Seminoles also have less time to prepare as the game takes place on Thursday. Never mind that they will travel hundreds of miles to Massachusetts (where it is near freezing in November).
Let's look even further, though. FSU will likely be 7-1 come November 1st and thus be ranked in the top 10. All the fans will be excited and—as the Seminoles host Miami the next week—the players will be looking ahead. It's the perfect trap. The Seminoles should win this game, but the psychology factor (and help from BC's linebacker Luke Kuechley) helps shock Florida State into a loss.
Final: Boston College 24, Florida State 17
Mark Stoops Will Go to Ohio State
Before I get to all the remaining joyful predictions, we might as well get all of the negative information out of the way. One of the reasons that the previously mentioned Florida State-Oklahoma game will be a tight one includes the presence of FSU Defensive Coordinator Mark Stoops. Mark Stoops is the brother of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops. Both of them hail from Youngstown, Ohio.
Therefore, the firing of Jim Tressel in Columbus has his attention. New Ohio State coach Luke Fickell will likely disappoint (come on, his best players are suspended and Terrelle Pryor has left the team), and the NCAA will bring down an iron fist on the Buckeyes Fickell will get a gig elsewhere and the rest of the staff will be fired.
Ohio State will need a new head coach, and Mark Stoops' resume as DC at Arizona and at FSU stands out. Going with the tradition of hiring proven young talent, the Ohio State University will welcome Stoops as the Buckeyes' new head coach. Fortunately, the Seminoles will be such a hot program that Jimbo Fisher will have no trouble finding a capable new defensive coordinator.
Yes, this means Urban Meyer will stay retired.
FSU Wins in Gainesville for First Time Since 2003
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
FSU beat Florida..in Tallahassee. So what?
Jimbo Fisher won't have a solid team until he proves he can win in Gainesville. This will be the year—Florida State will be energized from winning the ACC Atlantic and won't want their season to go to waste. Will Muschamp used to work with Jimbo Fisher at LSU, so the Gators will keep it close. FSU just won't be battered from a tough easy schedule, and the pro experiment Muschamp is using at Florida will fail. Even if the Gators switch back to a spread to suit Gators quarterback John Brantley, there will not be enough time for the Gators to adjust so they can stop the Seminoles.
Final: Seminoles 28, Gators 21
2011 ACC Champions
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
You all probably figured out that if FSU has its best conference record in ages, the team will win the ACC Atlantic. At the ACC Championship game, their foe will likely be none other than nemesis Virginia Tech. It won't matter, though. Jimbo Fisher's team will be as tough as nails after enduring a hostile Gainesville crowd at UF the week before. Revenge will be a great motivator, and with Virginia Tech breaking in a new quarterback against an improved 'Noles defense, Florida State will bring the 2011 ACC Championship Trophy home.
Final: FSU 31, VT 24
Orange Bowl Champions
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
It also won't matter who Florida State plays in Orange Bowl. The 'Noles will be riding such a high from their ACC title that they will have confidence to take down anyone. A casual fan might consider this a weakness with the ACC's atrocious BCS bowl record. This will actually be the statistic that keeps E.J. Manuel and crew grounded. To cap off their dream year, winning a BCS bowl will be a priority and the whole "us against the world" mentality will come into play for them. If a Big East team arrives for a showdown, odds are that FSU will carry home a 'W' and preseason hype for a national championship.
Top 5 Finish
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
12-2 record. ACC Champions. Orange Bowl Champions. Victories over Miami and Florida. Equals top-five ranking. Pretty self-explanatory.
Another No. 1 Recruiting Class
Doug Benc/Getty Images
The Seminoles had the No. 1 class of outgoing high school seniors this year, and after coming off a 12-2 record with an ACC title and Orange Bowl win next year, the Seminoles will do it again. Critics point out that FSU won a couple ACC games by close margins in 2010 and that their 10-4 season could have easily been 8-5. 2011 will be when Fisher proves that he is a legitimate successor to Bobby Bowden.
Need any more evidence? Look at the recruiting boards. Already the No. 1 prospect in the nation, defensive end Mario Edwards, has committed to play in Tallahassee. They've also hooked the number 10 recruit, another defensive end by the name of Chris Casher. Another defensive end, running back, safety, interior linebacker, and offensive tackle have already committed—and that's from the ESPN Top 150 alone! Seven recruits. And there's still a year and a half! Beware Seminole haters, because for all these reasons—and possibly more—the Spear will strike fear in enemies once again.