With Deshaun Watson off to the NFL, the Florida State Seminoles have emerged as the favorite to win the ACC in 2017. Many are saying the Noles are one of the best teams in country and they will have a chance to prove it right off the bat with a neutral-site opener against powerful Alabama. No matter the outcome of that first game, the Noles will contend at the end of the season behind emerging star Deondre Francois and a punishing defense that returns virtually intact.
2016 Record: 10-3 SU, 8-4 ATS, 6-6 O/U
2017 Regular Season Win Total: 9.5
National Championship Odds: +850
Odds To Win ACC: -110
Behind their freshman quarterback, the Noles got better as the season progressed. It also helped that the defense picked things up after facing some of the country’s top QBs early in the season. FSU started just 3-2 and was gutted by Lamar Jackson and Louisville, 63-20, in one of those losses. The D was shaky against Chad Kelly and Ole Miss, but the Noles pulled out a 45-34 victory.
There was a romp over Charleston Southern and a win over South Florida that was tighter than the final score of 55-35. Safety Derwin James went down with an injury and UNC’s Mitchell Trubisky took advantage to help the Tar Heels get a narrow 37-35 victory. On the road against Miami the following week, FSU fell into an early 13-0 hole and was on the verge of falling to 3-3. But they dug themselves out, beat the Hurricanes, and went on to win seven of their final eight games.
The only blemish in that run was a three-point loss to Clemson, but leading up to that game the Noles still hadn’t put it together. Following a slim four-point win at NC State, the Noles were invincible. They won their final three regular season games outscoring opponents 121-34 and ended the year with a 33-32 win over Michigan as a 7-point dog in the Orange Bowl.
Dalvin Cook was the focal point of the Noles offense last season as redshirt freshman Francois got his feet wet. Cook was phenomenal, Francois earned his stripes and the offense was consistently good. Cook is gone, but there is no shortage of talent waiting to carry the football. Top prospect Cam Akers is a can’t-miss, but he must wait in line to get his touches. Without Cook there might be a dropoff in production from the backfield, but that should only be temporary.
And in the meantime, Jimbo Fisher will lean on Francois, who had terrific numbers last season. He threw for 3,350 yards and 20 touchdowns and totaled 198 yards and five scores on the ground. Francois will be without his top two receivers from last year, which gives Nyqwan Murray a chance to take center stage. Five of Murray’s 27 receptions went for scores and he averaged 16.3 yards per catch.
To be the best you have to beat the best, and the Noles will have an opportunity at the start of the year. Is there a bigger game than FSU and Alabama on the schedule? Likely not, and it comes in the opener. The Noles also have Clemson and Louisville in division games, Miami and UNC in cross over matchups and must deal with in-state rival Florida. Going 12-0 is unlikely, but getting to the CFP isn’t.
Week 1: Florida State vs. Alabama, Saturday, September 2 (Atlanta, GA)
Week 2: Florida State vs. Louisiana-Monroe, Saturday, September 9
Week 3: Florida State vs. Miami (FL), Saturday, September 16
Week 4: Florida State vs. North Carolina State, Saturday, September 23
Week 5: Florida State at Wake Forest, Saturday, September 30
Week 6: OFF
Week 7: Florida State at Duke, Saturday, October 14
Week 8: Florida State vs. Louisville, Saturday, October 21
Week 9: Florida State at Boston College, Friday, October 27
Week 10: Florida State vs. Syracuse, Saturday, November 4
Week 11: Florida State at Clemson, Saturday, November 11
Week 12: Florida State vs. Delaware State, Saturday, November 18
Week 13: Florida State at Florida, Saturday, November 25
|SEC Conference||Big 10 Conference|
|ACC Conference||Big 12 Conference|
|Pac 12 Conference||Big East Conference|
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