As the season approaches ever so slowly, I thought that a discussion of the most important games for our beloved ‘Noles this season would compliment our ongoing formation of the 2010 FSU football outlook. In deciding how important each game will be, it is necessary to first consider one's GOALS and EXPECTATIONS for the upcoming season. To avoid confusion and/or contradiction with FrankD's recent piece on the setting of goals and expectations, which is a great read, I will proceed to call the basis for my evaluations my PRIORITIES for the 2010 season. I feel safe in claiming that the general TN consensus is that the first objective on the docket is to win the ACC Atlantic Division. It is only by accomplishing this step that Florida State can make out of conference games and those of the post-season into meaningful showdowns. A valid objective for any season is to claim victory over the mullet-sporting lizards, as well as the program formerly known as Thug U. On-field performance obviously resonates with recruits, so a positive impression in the mind of these heralded athletes fuels the lifeblood of any successful program. However, I must say that I believe that the relationships between coaches and prospects, built over countless hours, to be far more important than the outcome of any single game. To show a positive trend in a program is the goal of most recruiters. Therefore, my objectives for the 2010 FSU football season are as follows:
A) Win the ACC Atlantic Division
2) Beat Florida and/or Miami
D) Exceed my current win total projection of 7.65
It must be noted that in a 12 game schedule, all games are very important. This is especially true in the case of the 8 game conference schedule. It should be stated that these objectives are not mutually exclusive. If A) and 2) are accomplished, it would logically follow that D) would be as well. This list is solely the opinion of DKfromVA. All members are encouraged to list their respective rankings of importance to foster a productive discussion.
With these criteria in mind, let's take a look at my top five most important Florida State football games for 2010.
5. 11/27/10 vs. Florida
Ending the drought against the Gators would do wonders in turning the tide of the little brother perception that currently exists. Many would call the rivalry with Florida the most heated of FSU's, and the game on the last weekend in November is circled on the calendar of many a ‘Noles fan. However, this game lacks the meaning of a conference game, which is the top of my priorities for this season. So, while the Florida game has a large significance in my mind in terms of rivalries and would undoubtedly aid in recruiting, Florida State needs to take care of its business in the ACC before the game with UF will have big time post-season ramifications.
4. 10/09/10 @ Miami
The battle at what is this week named Sun Life Stadium will likely be the only ACC game in which Florida State will not be favored. This being Miami, significance is inherent in this game and always will be. The gold mine that is South Florida talent will likely have its eyes on this rivalry game. A win in this game would certainly help the ‘Noles chances of taking the Atlantic Division, but a loss wouldn't cripple them, as some others on the schedule likely would. So, while a win would be beneficial in achieving my top priority for this season, I don't see it as crucial as those listed below.
3. 11/06/10 vs. North Carolina
The game with the Heels will be extremely important in determining Florida State's chances of taking the ACC Atlantic Division. With likely the best defense that FSU will face this season, Carolina will travel to Doak Campbell to face the well rested ‘Noles, who will have 9 days after a Thursday night trip to NC State. With much about Agent-Gate yet to be decided, it is unclear if UNC will play the game at full strength, personnel-wise. While Florida State is currently expected to go into the game as slight favorites, this game doesn't project to be a cakewalk by any means.
2. 11/13/10 vs. Clemson
After a very important match-up with North Carolina a week before, the Clemson Tigers will visit Doak in an Atlantic Division showdown. It's hard to imagine this game not carrying huge consequences in terms of the division race, as this will be a battle of two of the expected three contenders. With Kyle Parker returning to provide stability at the Clemson quarterback position, the Tigers became a significantly stouter foe. With an early line very similar to that of the FSU-UNC game, why does this contest rank above the aforementioned in importance? The answer is the tiebreak. In the event of a highly possible three-way tie, the Atlantic Division record would decide who goes to Charlotte, provided that one team did not beat both of the other two. The first two weeks in November will be enormous in determining the fate of this year's Florida State football team.
1. 10/16/10 vs. Boston College
My pick as the most important game on FSU's schedule this season is the grudge match against the Boston College Eagles. BC benefits from playing the two Coastal Division patsies this season, and has a legitimate chance at a 7-1 conference record. The Eagles have dominated Florida State on the line of scrimmage the past two seasons, and the ‘Noles will look to put an end to this on October 16th. A win for FSU in this game would solidify its chances to represent the Atlantic Division in December, but a loss could destroy them. Florida State would likely need BC to lose to Virginia Tech, Clemson, and one other ACC opponent should the Eagles win in Tallahassee. These factors make Boston College a must win for Florida State in mid October.
There are a few things here that give me heart about the upcoming season. The first of which is that FSU should be favored in the top 3 most important games of its season. Also beneficial is the fact that 4 of the top 5 most important games are played inside the friendly confines of Doak Campbell Stadium. Finally, as we have discussed in the proportional win shares projections we have previously done, Florida State's win total looks slightly more favorable against its schedule than those of Boston College and Clemson, although the Atlantic should be an absolute dogfight. The negative that stands out is that the #1 most important game will be played the week after traveling to Miami, and the #2 in importance will be played the week after #3.
So, what say you, TN community? What do you think are the most important games on FSU's 2010 schedule?