The Optimist's Guide to the 2011 Schedule

Yes, I'm known for wearing garnet and gold glasses. I was anticipating getting our schedule so I could offer up a "THIS is the year!" National Championship breakdown, but it doesn't look like that's gonna happen. I always appreciate the TN writers and their exceedingly high level of insight and accurate analysis, but you's fun to have a little bit of blind, biased, unadulterated homerism during the off-season. While there are definitely too many problems with this schedule to say "Look out! This sets up perfect!" for me to follow through with a completely serious"THIS is the year!" post, I cannot help but still look at the schedule glass as "half full". This is a non-scientific analysis, solely for the entertainment and fantasy of true Seminoles who allow their brains to dream of the hoisted Sears Trophy after our next Championship each and every year at this time.

So, I'd like to point out all the positives from this schedule... Let's break it down.

First off, getting 2 warm-ups is great. Face it... our main question marks on offense will be the passing game and O-line cohesion. Having 2 games to warm up is just what the doctor ordered to get EJ and the receivers on the same page, and allow our O-line to get in sync. Or defense will only continue to get better.

Oklahoma... Oh yeah! That's what i'm talking about. I have to say that the Florida Game this past year gives me true hope that FSU fans can REALLY get Doak rocking. Oklahoma is not as tough on the road as they are at home, and we're not the same team they faced last year.. I'd even say had we played them in a bowl, we'd have had a much better performance. They will be the preseason #1 team. Getting them after 2 games at home is much different than a roadie after 1 warm up. This is the PERFECT high-level opponent (not used to long roadies), The PERFECT location, and the PERFECT time for us to win. Early enough to have plenty of tricks up our sleeves and full-health at home.

@ Clemson... Well, here's the fly in the ointment, right? This is what Jeff Cameron will rant about and the conspiracy theorists will point to as the HORRIBLE schedule flaw that is used to punish us for refusing to play UM on Labor Day.... to put @ Clemson the week after Oklahoma? It's insane! Right?... Well... I don' t think so... Why? 

They say we'll be beat up from the Oklahoma game.... I disagree that "beat up" happens after 1 tough team, really the first tough team of the year. Would we rather have the bye week and then have 3 straight road games? THAT's what would be fatiguing. 1 week prep is fine, and I'd rather get Clemson early... It will be to our advantage to catch them early in the year when our D-line is healthiest, as I think their defense will not be as good as they were this past year, so the key will be being able to be physical enough against their running game. I hope they are undefeated, as they play a tough SEC team in Auburn (so they'd be just as "beat up") the week before us...catching the defending champs at the best time to pull the upset and making the match-up all the sexier.

For us, we have the bye the week AFTER Clemson (Clemson is on the road at Va Tech), allowing us the full week of prep, with the knowledge that we'll be able to get the bye after the ACC opener. The importance of this game is WAY to evident for our coaches to allow us to be "flat", regardless of the OU outcome. To be able to get out of the conference gate 1-0 and in the drivers seat for the ACC Championship game is a huge advantage for us. The fact that we have not won up there in years is another focusing point for us to be pumped for this game. .. Also, Clemson still is coached by Dabo.

So, on the face, it looks very tough to have OU and CU in back to back weeks, and it is probably more likely we go 0-2 than 2-0, but even if we go 2-1, it's early enough to play our way back into the top 10 by years end....but IF we pull the 4-0 start, we could really start to get excited...because then we have....

The Straightaway..... the 2 easiest road games possible in conference in Wake and Duke back to back after the bye... VERY little chance of an upset, and it sets us up to get 4 of final 6 games at home for the 2nd half of the year. While I know that back-to-back home games are not fun for traveling fans, for the team it is an advantage in playing Maryland, and a hopefully Wilson-less Wolfpack.

The sacrifice we make for this easy stretch is the "short week" before the Boston College Thursday night game on Nov. 3rd. This game will almost certainly "lock up" the Atlantic for us with a win. A lot will be made of the short week, but BC will be coming off three straight road games... at Clemson, VT, and Maryland the Sat. before we come to town... talk about being "beat up"? If anything, WE have the advantage over BC when you look at the games leading up to our match-up. We catch BC at as good a time as we could hope for, and the short week gives us a late year Long Week... almost like getting an extra bye week.... the week before Miami. Overall? POSITIVE!!

Getting Virginia at home before Florida is much easier than getting Maryland (at least in previous years, as the Fridge just always played us pretty tough) that week. We'll likely have the Atlantic locked, and be talking NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP! with a win of the disgusting Gators!

Can't you see it?

It sets up perfect.... What a great schedule!

First... go 4-0 in the first 4 weeks...then you get a week off. Tough? Yes... but certainly doable.

Second.... go 8-0 with the easiest 4 game stretch we've had on our schedule in years

Third.... go 9-0 in a 1 game ACC Championship Clinching (ACCCC) game at Boston College.

Fourth.... Go 11-0 beating UM at home with a long week, and Virginia

Fifth.... Get first road win at Florida since 2003 against first year UF coach! Sweet!!

Last..... Beat the winner of the weak Coastal Division and enjoy all the hype that will come getting prepared for the BCS Championship game... stories about "2nd year head coaches" will be revived, EJ Manuel will be compared to Cam Newton, only they'll make note of his LACK of controversy.....

Hmm... I guess this turned into a "THIS is the year!" post after all!

Oh well... Spring is the time for dreaming, and today really felt like spring is not far away... so Dream On!

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