FSU Football: Why the Seminoles Are 2012 BCS Favorites (Even with a Loss to OU)

Adam HirshfieldFeatured ColumnistSeptember 17, 2011

FSU Football: Why the Seminoles Are 2012 BCS Favorites (Even with a Loss to OU)

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    Coach Jimbo Fisher, up-and-coming star quarterback E.J. Manuel and their No. 5 Florida State Seminoles face a tough test Saturday night as they host the No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners in Tallahassee.

    Expert opinions differ on whether or not the Noles can get it done against the top team in the nation, but in some ways, a loss wouldn't be the end of the world.

    There are four major reasons why, even if Florida State falls Saturday at home to the mighty Sooners, they'll still be in the driver's seat to reach a BCS bowl game.

    Don't believe it? Read on.

Jimbo Fisher

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    Now in his second full season at the helm for Florida State, head coach Jimbo Fisher has already made great strides in bringing the Seminoles back to college football's elite.

    Following a 10-4 campaign in 2010 that saw the Noles earn a victory in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, it's fair to think we could see the program take another step forward this season.

    Could Fisher follow the example of his Saturday night opponent, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, and take his team to a national title in just his second season at the helm? We'll see.

Defense

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    Sure, it's just two games—and of course they were against Louisiana-Monroe and Charleston Southern, not exactly powerhouses of the Southeast.

    But the Seminoles' defense has allowed just 10 combined points so far in 2011, allowing 191 and 84 yards in those two games, respectively.

    Against Louisiana-Monroe, the Florida State defense totaled four sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss.

    "I'm going to keep on saying it and keep on stressing it," sophomore safety Lamarcus Joyner told the Tallahassee Democrat at the time. "Why I really feel so confident [in the defense] is because of up front. With that pressure, man, we're going to win championships."

    If they're able to shut down opposing offenses in the ACC the way they have their opponents in the first two games, the Noles are going to be tough to beat moving forward.

E.J. Manuel

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    Manuel is finally getting a chance to start for the Seminoles after two years largely spent sitting behind first-round NFL draft pick Christian Ponder.

    And Manuel has made the most of his opportunity so far.

    After leading Florida State to its Chick-fil-A Bowl victory last winter following an injury to Ponder, Manuel has come out strong in 2011. After tossing for 252 yards and two scores in the victory over Louisiana-Monroe, Manuel threw for a career-high 329 yards and four touchdowns in last week's pasting of Charleston Southern.

    A former 5-star recruit, Manuel has the skills to be a terrific quarterback at Florida State, and he's already taking strides toward being the leader they need to get them back into BCS bowl-game form.

Schedule

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    Let's be honest: The biggest reason Florida State has a nicely-paved road to a BCS bowl game is that their schedule, after Oklahoma, is largely full of creampuffs.

    Win or lose against the Sooners, the Seminoles should be favored in each of their next eight games: at Clemson, at Wake Forest, at Duke, at home versus Maryland and North Carolina State, at Boston College, and at home versus Miami and Virginia.

    Yes, their final regular-season game is at perennial powerhouse Florida, but it's a non-conference game that won't affect their standing in the ACC.

    If Florida State can get—worst case—to 10-1 before the showdown with the Gators, they should be well in line for the ACC's automatic berth in a BCS bowl game.