Realistically, I think we get 8 or 9 wins during the regular season next year. It is extrodinarily difficult to run the table in college football, particularly when you load up your non-conference schedule with powerhouse's like OU and UF. Thus, it would take a miracle for the Noles to go 14-0. But wouldn't that be sweet. Bobby would surely crap himself. If it happened, he'd say "I always knew we were only a player away. I'd been telling folks all along that football is dad gum cyclical." But the formula for the impossible season is more than 1 player. Here's how the dream would play out.
First, you have to get Ponder back to pre-injury form and keep him healthy.
Second, get Smart and the wave of recruits that seems to be rolling in now.
Third, get enough JUCO guys who can make an immediate impact on the D. (Mizell, Harris, Dorsey, etc.)
Fourth, get golden shoes Hopkins to be able to nail the PAs.
Fifth, win the ACCCG & the bowl game. Regardless of who we play these games should be difficult.
Finally, run the table during the regular season, which requires some explaining.
I'll discuss the games FSUn sees as challenges:
"@ OU, @ Miami, Clemson, @ NC State, BC, UNC, UF"
9/11 @ OU: This game is early in the season. We will be a heavy underdog, and OU had 5 losses when they were banged up. Yeah, we beat BYU after they beat OU early this season (OU didn't start banged up but wasn't playing at home). The heat shouldn't affect the Noles and there is no altitude to compete with like there was at BYU. The biggest part of OU being banged up this year was missing Bradford. He will be gone next season as well. OU lost @ Miami in a close one even without Bradford. Critical thing here is that this game is early in the season, giving Jimbo & Smart plenty of time to prepare for the upset. The upset gives the new guys and young guys that they can compete with anyone on any given day, but not overconfident b/c of the sobering reality of what happened after our big upset at BYU this season.
@ Miami: The diff. in the Miami game this year was about a 1-inch diff. between Fortson catching the game winning TD and trapping the ball. Miami will be at home and we will be an underdog again. We always seem to play Miami close regardless of where the game is. With most of our offense returning and a substantially improved D, we have a realistic chance of winning. The difference could be betwen a Hopkins missed PAT or golden shoes nailing a game winning field goal.
Clemson: They get worse with the loss of Spiller and Ford. Ponder will not be playing with broken ribs and throwing 4 ints. We will not be dealing with the noise in Death Valley. Despite all of that, we were still beating them on their home field in the 4th qtr this year. With an improved D and a healthy Ponder, this one should be a win.
@ NC State: With a healthy Ponder, we can beat them in another shootout. NCS was banged up this year and should be better next year. We will likely be favored in this game as NCSt isn't a powerhouse. They do not have the athletes we do, nor the coaching provided we have a Fisher/Coley/Smart combo. I don't think this one will be close, but even if it is: good coaches win close games.
BC: The difference this year was a Greg Reid dropping a 4th qtr int. We were also playing at BC when the Eagles were out to win one for their Gipper (the LB who had cancer). That will not happen next season. The star defenfensive youngsters who experienced that loss this season will wreak havoc next season and punish BC in Doak Campbell. BC does not escape.
UNC: This is one of the 6 we beat this year. They lose far more players than we do and we have JUCO guys to add to our depth. We are also playing at home instead of on the road. UNC will not solve the Fisher/Ponder riddle, and we win again,
11/27 UF: If the miracle plays out and we are still undefeated by the time we play, there is no intimidation in playing UF next season (UF will not be undefeated). There is no Tebow, and there has been a mass exodus from UF's defense. On the other side, UF has not seen the likes of a healthy and mature FSU scoring machine led by Christian Ponder. Charlie Strong will not be coaching against our offense. Like FSU, UF will have a new DC that the players will need to get accustomed to (unless UF promotes from within). If we are still undeafeated by this point, the game comes down to golden shoes Hopkins again.
As I said, regardless of who we play in the ACCCG and the bowl game, those games should be difficult. Hopefully by that point and by the UF game, the defense is running smoothly and we won't have to rely entirely on Ponder to win a shootout.
But wouldn't it be sweet for all the critics of the Bowden move to give them a Tomahawk Salute and run the table? And to show Bobby that he really did make the right choice by retiring? And to win back the few boosters who are withdrawing due to their cult-like worship of Bowden?