Last week, the ACC released the 2014 football schedule for each of its 14 teams. As Florida State looks to claim its third straight ACC championship and defend its national title, the Seminoles now know what the road there will look like. Though FSU won’t take the field for more than seven months, here’s a quick look at what games will be gimmes, potential stumbling blocks and which ones will have huge implications in 2014:
These are the contests that Florida State should win with relative ease.
vs. The Citadel
The Citadel will be the only FCS team on Florida State’s schedule in 2014. Under head coach Jimbo Fisher, the Seminoles have outscored their five FCS opponents by a combined margin of 294-25. FSU defeated the Citadel 62-10 back in 2005, the last meeting between the schools.
vs. Wake Forest
Florida State pounded the Demon Deacons 59-3 in Winston-Salem this past season and have shut out Wake Forest in each of its last two trips to Tallahassee. First-year head coach Dave Clawson will also have to replace Wake’s leading passer, rusher and receiver from a season ago as well as All-ACC nose tackle, Nikita Whitlock.
While the Carrier Dome is hardly an easy place to play, Florida State holds a huge edge in speed and talent over the Orange. FSU defeated Syracuse 59-3 at Doak Campbell Stadium a season ago. The Seminoles finished as the highest scoring team in FBS history in 2013 while Syracuse at times, was very offensively challenged.
Believe it or not, Virginia is the last visiting ACC team to win at Doak Campbell Stadium, but the Cavaliers are coming off of their worst season in nearly four decades. Virginia didn’t win a single ACC game a year ago while FSU didn’t lose a single game period. This one could get ugly quick.
vs. Boston College
Boston College came closer than any other ACC team to defeating Florida State a season ago in Chestnut Hill, but this one is in Tallahassee. The Eagles are also losing an All-American running back in Andre Williams and receiver Alex Amidon, who accounted for 51 percent of their passing offense a season ago.
Potential Stumbling Blocks
These are the games that Florida State should win, but could struggle in with a lack of focus or an off day.
Offensively, Clemson is certainly rebuilding, but FSU can’t afford to look past Dabo Swinney’s crew. Despite the fact that the Seminoles have won the last two games against the Tigers by a combined 49 points, Clemson has still won five of the last nine in the series. In every year dating back to 2009, the winner of the Florida State-Clemson game has gone on to represent the Atlantic division in the ACC Championship.
at N.C. State
Considering that the Wolfpack didn’t win a conference game a season ago, it seems like a stretch to call this one a potential stumbling block. N.C. State however, is the only ACC Atlantic team that Florida State doesn’t have a winning record or road victory against under Jimbo Fisher. Though N.C. State looks to potentially be in for another long year, it would be unwise for FSU to ever mark a trip to Raleigh as a gimme.
During Florida State’s “lost decade”, one of the losses that stuck out most was a 26-20 overtime defeat at Louisville on a Thursday night back in 2002. In 2014, FSU will visit Louisville on a Thursday night in the first meeting between the teams since that rainy night more than a decade ago. The Seminoles will have 11 days to prepare, but Thursday nights have not always been kind to FSU.
The Big Ones
These are the games that will define Florida State as a football program in 2014 and will likely make or break the Seminoles as a team.
vs. Oklahoma State (Dallas)
Opening the season in Dallas against an Oklahoma State team that has become a perennial contender in the Big XII will be a real challenge for Florida State. The Cowboys finished one victory shy of claiming the Big XII crown a season ago and should have a relatively decided crowd advantage with this one being played at “Jerry World”.
vs. Notre Dame
Notre Dame looks to be a force to be reckoned with in 2014 with the return of quarterback Everett Golson. Golson led the Fighting Irish to the BCS title game in his only season in South Bend. The contest at Tallahassee will be a rematch of the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl in which FSU rallied for an 18-14 victory. Though Florida State is 5-2 all-time against Notre Dame, the ‘Noles have never beat the Fighting Irish in Tallahassee.
Last season’s game between Florida State and Miami had an old time feel, but the Seminoles pulled away in the second half for a 41-14 victory. While Jimbo Fisher is 4-0 against the Hurricanes with three victories coming by double digits, this is always a game that Miami is able to get up for. It’s also no secret that head coach Al Golden has Miami headed in the right direction.
The annual rivalry game with Florida has huge implications as far as recruiting and in-state bragging rights are concerned. Though Fisher is 3-1 against the rival Gators, Florida had won the previous six match-ups and with its 37-26 victory at Doak Campbell Stadium in 2012, Florida remains the last team to beat FSU.