It’s hard to ignore the fact that Florida State has put themselves in the conversation as one of the elite programs in college football. From 2010-2012, the Seminoles have won 39 games, including a National Championship two years ago and a spot in the first-ever College Football Playoff last season. As Jimbo Fischer tries to reload a roster that lost a lot of talent from last season, including a Heisman winning quarterback, the Seminoles look to make it four-straight 12+ win seasons.
There are two different routes the Seminoles can take, and many believe the task is too tall for Fischer to equal his recent successes. With the personnel losses on both sides of the ball, Fischer could be looking to rebuild in 2015 to prep for a playoff run in 2016.
|9/18||@ Boston College|
|10/3||@ Wake Forest|
|10/24||@ Georgia Tech|
Estimated Wins: 9.93
Florida State enters the 2015 campaign with two patsies at home in Texas State and USF. USF will be the first of three games on the Seminoles schedule that will be played against interstate opponents. The Seminoles enter conference play on the road at Boston College and then travel to play Wake Forest. They return home to host their rival the Miami Hurricanes in the first of a two-game homestand. The second home game is against Louisville, a team FSU handled fairly easily in Kentucky last year. Then comes the rematch against Georgia Tech on the road, a game no doubt circled by the Yellow Jackets. Syracuse is sandwiched between Georgia Tech and the highly anticipated battle against Clemson in what could be a mini playoff game for the ACC Championship. The Seminoles wrap their season up with two home games against NC State and Chattanooga before their season finale against Florida.
When I look at this schedule I can tell you Jimbo Fischer and company got a little lucky. It’s safe to say the first two opponents are soft and FSU’s first four conference games are against opponents the Seminoles beat straight up and against the spread last season. They also have Syracuse, potentially the worst team in the conference, between their two biggest games of the year.
With tons of openings on the starting roster for both sides of the ball, Fischer has the tall task of filling all these shoes. I’ll start with the biggest pair in quarterback Jameis Winston. Junior Sean Maguire made one start last season, going 21 for 39 with 304 yards in the air in a hard fought battle against Clemson. He’s the odds on favorite to start this season but will be pushed by redshirt freshman J.J. Cosentino, sophomore John Franklin III, and freshmen De’Andre Johnson and Deondre Francois.
The receiving core looks stocked full of young talent. Picking up two of the top six receivers in last year’s signing class in Ermon Lane and Travis Rudolph should help the passing game considerably. Three other players to look at are George Cambell, Da’Vante Phillips and Auden Tate, all three listed in the top 300 in overall prospects.
The offensive line is going through some serious changes as well. Fischer has his left tackle position filled with Roderick Johnson, who busted on the scene late last season and provided stability on the blind side. The other four positions are up for grabs and the offensive line hasn’t really been FSU’s strong suit in recent years.
The FSU defense allowed only 4.1 yards per play in 2013, but that number ballooned to 5.5 in 2014. Even though seven starters are returning from last season, the defensive line has the most holes on this side of the ball after losing All-ACC linemen Mario Edwards and Eddie Goldman.
The other potential issue defensively is the cornerback position. P.J. Williams and Ronald Darby both left for the NFL, but the talent pool in this position is deep for FSU and if the highly touted prospects can live up to their billing, then the drop-off should be minimal.
Regular Season Win Total
ACC Championship Odds
National Championship Odds
Odds Courtesty of Bovada
I don’t see the Seminoles getting to 10 wins this season under the current circumstances, mostly because the roster will have a lot of youth. Even though this crop of youngsters are very talented it’s going to be an uphill climb. You could almost say that a slight regression started last season, as Florida State found themselves in tightly contested games throughout the course of their season when favored by much larger numbers. FSU still has the target on their back from winning the ACC last season, so conference teams will be giving everything they’ve got against the champs. With that added pressure I’ll say Florida State coming up short of their win total would not be a huge surprise.
Win Total Prediction
We asked other experts on Florida State football what they thought about the Noles’ upcoming season. Here’s what they had to say.
OVER 9.5 Wins – This total is set a bit low in our opinion. Florida State has topped this total in four of their last five seasons. The only time the Seminoles didn’t their record was 9-4 which missed this year’s total by just one win. Many feel the offense will fall off with Jameis Winston moving onto the NFL. Let’s not forget that former Notre Dame QB, Everett Golson has transferred in and will almost assuredly be the starter. He was 12-1 in his 13 starts for the Irish with his only loss coming in the National Championship game. The Noles defense should be loaded again with NFL talent all over the field. The schedule isn’t bad with seven home games. They haven’t lost a home game in 2 years so we expect them to run the table at Doak Campbell Stadium. Just a few road wins gets them over this number.
While FSU could get through a fairly easy schedule unbeaten, chances are this is the year that reality catches up with the Seminoles. Between losing 80 percent of its offensive line, its top two receiving targets and its all-world QB (plus, potentially losing RB Dalvin Cook after an alleged off-field incident), FSU finds itself with a lot of question marks on offense. And then there’s the issue of how hungry this team is going to be. With very few seniors around, the majority of players on this roster have lost just one game in their career– three tops. Last year, FSU was able to rest on its laurels and still go 13-1– a fact that likely lends itself to even more complacency. That all adds up to a letdown in 2015. Though, Seminoles fans can probably take solace in the fact that FSU should be loaded and thinking national title again by 2016.
OVER 9.5 Wins – I think 9.5 is an intriguing over/under on regular season wins for Florida State this year and am inclined to lean toward the over. FSU has several question marks heading into the season, most notably at quarterback, but uncertainty also exists along each line and particularly regarding the linebacking corps.That said, the ‘Noles are quite big on the OL, very deep on the DL, and feature promising talent at offensive skill positions and in the defensive backfield. And as unproven as this Seminoles squad is, the same can be said for the ACC schedule it faces, along with a non-conference slate that really just includes Florida with a first-year head coach. The inexperience is concerning, but the talent could very well compensate for FSU’s youth in 2015.
OVER 9.5 Wins – Florida State looks to be right around the 9.5 win mark this season, but I’m going to go over despite the Seminoles’ many question marks.
Star running back Dalvin Cook, who became the first FSU freshman to ever rush for 1,000 yards last season, has his status still in question after being accused of punching a woman outside a Tallahassee bar, but regardless of whether Cook will be able to go, FSU has a ton of playmakers on offense like receivers Travis Rudolph, Ermon Lane and backs Mario Pender and Jacques Patrick.
The questions however, will be whether an offensive line that brings in four new faces can provide protection and who the quarterback will be. Sean Maguire is expected to battle Notre Dame transfer Everett Golson for that spot.
On defense, there is no shortage of talent, but it isn’t overly experienced. Jalen Ramsey leads a secondary that should be one of the best in the ACC despite losing both starting cornerbacks from last season early to the NFL. The defensive line is deep, but only netted 17 sacks a season ago while the linebacker position is extremely thin with seniors Terrance Smith and Reggie Northrup headlining the unit. The Seminoles are fortunate enough to have a weapon at kicker in All-American Roberto Aguayo.
I see FSU beating Texas State, South Florida, Wake Forest, Syracuse and Chattanooga rather easily. That leaves Boston College, Miami, Louisville, Georgia Tech, Clemson, N.C. State and Florida left. I think the Seminoles can go 5-2 in those games, but even a 4-3 record in those games would give FSU a chance to hit the 10-win plateau by winning the ACC or a bowl game. Under head coach Jimbo Fisher, the Seminoles are a combined 7-2 in those contests.