The FSU's 2012 football schedule came out today, and the ACC got a lot of things right. No team gets a bye week before playing the 'Noles, and FSU doesn't play anyone on short rest. Additionally, the Miami game is in October, where it should be. There's a huge conference game early against Clemson, and one late against Virginia Tech, but not too late as to interfere for prep with Florida.
Did FSU want to play four home games in the blistering September heat? Of course not, but for local businesses, 60,000 fans in the stands on Sept. 8 is much better than a road game. FSU fans should have zero complaints, because the ACC finally "got it." Let's break it down:
Sept. 1: Murray State
Sept. 8: Savannah State
Florida Starts with two D1-AA/FCS cupcakes in Murray State and Savannah State. You can read roughly 1000 comments on the Savannah state issue, here.
Sept 15: Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Wake Forest beat the 'Noles last season, the third of three-consecutive losses. Was Wake a better team than FSU last season? Certainly not. Wake had the 66th best season nationally. Any team is capable of beating another on any given day. FSU should be a heavy favorite here, assuming the team is not completely unfocused coming off two emotional losses and with a hurt quarterback, ala 2011. Wake offers a nice step up in talent from the first two games, but the 'Noles should be double-digit favorites here. There is a lookahead factor, with Clemson on deck. Wake Forest plays Liberty and North Carolina before coming to town, and if undefeated, this could be an evening game.
Sept 22: Clemson Tigers
Florida State then hosts Clemson, who beat the 'Noles last year in what was a surprisingly close game in Clemson given that FSU was without its quarterback. The Tigers finished poorly down the stretch, and it was clear that the 'Noles caught them when they were at their peak. Clemson will still be a very talented team and will again be one of the ACC favorites, after finally snapping a 20-year conference championship drought. Getting the Tigers early is better for FSU, as Clemson does have a decent amount of graduation losses to address. The Tigers had the 36th best season last year nationally, and face Furman before traveling to Tallahassee. Florida State should be a small favorite here.
Sept 29: at USF Bulls
Florida State then travels to face USF in Tampa in another game where 'Nole fans could outnumber the opponent. USF had a lot of bad luck last year in going 5-7, and should be much improved in 2012 with 17+ starters returning. The motivation edge clearly goes to USF because of the prestige of the two programs and the fact that the game falls smack dab in the middle of the conference season after the Clemson game, while USF has scheduled Ball State to prep for the 'Noles. FSU will not be extra motivated because of the 2009 loss, as the key players on this team had little or nothing to do with that game. This game will not be a cakewalk, but FSU should be favored.
Oct 06 at N.C. State Wolfpack
The 'Noles then travel to face the N.C. State Wolfpack. The Wolfpack were a tough team to figure in 2011, as they had a ton of injuries, but did win 8 games. This will be Florida State's second consecutive road game, while N.C. State plays at Miami before hosting the 'Noles. This should be a tough game as N.C. State brings back most everyone, but FSU smoked them in 2011 and should definitely be favored here as well.
Oct 13 Boston College Eagles
Boston College was a bad team last year and while the Eagles should be improved (they return most of their starters), FSU should still be a multiple-TD favorite. BC plays at Army the week before.
Oct 20 at Miami Hurricanes
Florida State travels to Miami to face the Hurricanes. These are two programs going in opposite directions, with Florida State winning five of the last seven. Miami is about to get blasted by the NCAA, and has a difficult schedule. Miami was the 32nd best team last year, and as stated multiple times, that was their last chance for a while at having a top team. There is a real chance that FSU fans will outnumber Cane supporters, and not just at the end of the game, as occurred last time down in Miami. The Hurricanes lost an incredible 25 players to graduation/early NFL entry, including an incredible 14 starters. The 'Noles should be favorites in Miami for the first time since 2000.
Oct 27 Duke Blue Devils
Duke had the 77th best season last year, and is not likely to improve significantly. This is the game FSU wants coming off playing an emotional game against Miami and prepping for Virginia Tech.
Nov 08 at Virginia Tech Hokies (Thursday Night)
The 'Noles' Thursday nighter this year will be in Blacksburg against the Hokies. Florida State has never played on a Thursday night in Lane stadium, and only plays in Blacksburg once every five years. Va Tech was just 22nd nationally last season, but went to the Sugar Bowl by virtue of a 4-0 record against the weakest non-conference schedule in the history of football. Virginia Tech returns almost its entire defense and QB Logan Thomas, but does lose its running back, four of its top seven offensive linemen, and a host of important receivers. There are 18 days between the Miami game and the Virginia Tech game with only Duke in between. That allows guys to get rested up and extra prep work for VT. Early November should be cold, but not snowing. FSU does get 10 days to prep, while the Hokies get only six, having played the previous Thursday night. It's too close to say who will be favored here, but this should be an epic game.
Nov 17 at Maryland Terrapins (extended rest)
Florida State travels to play an awful Maryland team it pasted in Doak in 2011. Maryland has had attrition of cataclysmic proportions, and that should be crippling to their depth chart at this late date in the season. Despite the lookahead to Florida, FSU should be a double-digit favorite. Maryland plays at Clemson the week before. This could be a weather game.
Nov 24 Florida Gators
The season finale is Florida. The 'Noles have won two in a row and are looking to make it three for another state title. Florida brings back the majority of its starters off a team that was 30th in the country last year. UF plays two patsies before traveling to Tallahassee, but the 'Noles should still be favored.
Ultimately, this schedule is great for Florida State. It gives FSU a great chance to win 10+ games in the regular season, and has none of the nonsense seen in recent years from the ACC. Perhaps the conference has realized that scheduling to create 10-2/11-1/12-0 type teams is the smart way to go, as having a bunch of decent teams does not help the rep of a conference?
Tomahawk Nation will have analysis of the other ACC teams posted soon.