College Football Preseason Top 25: #8 Florida State

Al Dannity | Updated Oct 04, 2017

The Seminoles enter 2011 with massive expectations after last season’s trip to the ACC title game. Al Dannity says believe the hype, he’s picking Jimbo Fisher’s team to win the ACC.

The schedule Right I’ll just have a look here and see if there’s anyone of note on the schedule here…umm…oh right yes. After opening against two cupcakes, Louisiana-Monroe and Charleston Southern, the Seminoles take on Oklahoma at home. That could be a make or break game for each program’s BCS National Championship ambitions. ACC play begins a week later with three straight road games at Clemson, Wake Forest, and Duke.

Maryland should provide a big test at home on October 22 but NC State should be less trouble now that Russell Wilson has left the program. Florida State’s annual battle with the U takes place on November 12 before they close the regular season in the Swamp against Florida.

The players Christian Ponder may have moved on to the NFL but his replacement, E.J. Manuel, has gained plenty of experience over the past two seasons. The offense returns 8 starters from last year. The biggest contribution could come from the five options the Seminoles have at running back. Chris Thompson, Jermaine Thomas, Ty Jones, Devonta Freeman, and James Wilder could all contribute to a productive ground game.

The defense also brings back 8 starters. Brandon Jenkins anchors a defensive line loaded with experience while Xavier Rhodes should be the star of the secondary. NCAA Football betting fans should note that kicker Dustin Hopkins and punter Shawn Powell are both returning starters.

The forecast The light conference slate is the main reason I rank the Seminoles so high. There’s just enough meat there to appeal to the voters but not enough for a Top 5 finish if they don’t beat the Sooners. That’s the one game on this slate where I don’t like Florida State to come good but they should perform far better than they managed in Norman last season.

Conference play should prove crucial to Florida State’s fortunes. If they can get over Maryland then I like them to remain unbeaten in the ACC, up to and including the championship game. That would earn a trip to the Orange Bowl and with a second straight win over Florida also on the horizon, it promises to be a big year for the Seminoles.