After surveying the landscape that is college football I have come to the realization that FSU can be better than what people think and have a pretty good shot at another ACC Championship, They will even have a shot (albeit a small one) at the NC game.
Why? Let's look at some things that are pretty much set even at this early date.
1) Bama, Oregon, OSU are the three main teams to beat or will play for the BCS Championship. Of these three only OSU has a clear path to the NC game. I don't see a hands down "best" team next year even though, until proven otherwise, Bama is number one. Bama is good but lacks the play makers as in years past, you can pass against them as I did not see that special player in the front seven. They also lose strength and experience on the OL. It will take them a while to develop that group to the point where they can run over anybody they play. As for the defense, they have great recruits coming in but I do not see a Clowney type of player in that group. Oregon has the PAC 12 to deal with, no undefeated season for them. The PAC 12 will rival the SEC as the strongest conference. Out of the three, my money is on OSU to emerge undefeated although all three have the talent to do so. OSU plays in the Big Ten....nuff said. They didn't have the greatest team and still went undefeated. They will only get better with experience under Meyer.
2) Clemson loses a lot on offense (starting WR, RB and TE) AND it looks as though their defensive recruits will be too young to really help that defense which will improve a little but not much. They will add much needed depth. Boyd coming back is a big boost for them and they have a deep WR corps led by Watkins but after that they seem to be very vulnerable. If the game was in Tally I would pick FSU without a second thought. Death Valley gives the Tigers a REAL edge as they play very well there. For right now that game is a tossup IMO and a game that FSU can easily steal IF the OL plays consistent.
3) Even with the number one recruiting class I think the Gators will struggle to win eight games next season. They will suffer big loses on defense and their skill players suck. Their star RB graduates and he was BY FAR their best player. Their QB is not a good QB at all, teams will play 8-9 man fronts consistently next year and the Gators will not have that defense to bail them out and keep giving them the ball. I wouldn't be shocked if they finished 7-5 quite honestly. FSU should have beaten them this year and I think FSU beats them next year.
4) As of now, barring unknown schedule changes, there are exactly TWO tough games on the schedule. Clemson and UF. Pitt will be tough but I just don’t see them really hanging with the Noles point by point. I think the Noles have too many horses for them...we're not Notre Dame. The Noles will hang an average of 28-30 points a game on opponents despite Trickett's first year as the main man. Many say that we will suffer the "inexplicable" defeat and to that I say, to whom? You will need three things to beat FSU next year: 1) Home field advantage, 2) A stout defense with good to great corners and 3) an offense led by pro prospect capable of putting up 30 points on the Noles with less than three turnovers by the Noles. The only team that has two out of three is Clemson and THAT is the season right there.
5) As for the Noles, they have an easy schedule (so far), a good OL returning, a good defense returning, great skill position players returning and we can expect better play from the LBs (better coaching) and the punter (experience)as well. There are only three trouble spots: 1) new QB 2) FG kicking and 3) young corners. Trickett will probably have three bad games (at Clemson, at Pitt and more than likely one at home where he stinks up the joint) but his defense will be so good that I think he can get away with it at home and against a limited team such as Pitt. FG kicking will be important but not as important as the Noles on offense will roll. I am very concerned about the DBs. Joyner coming back was a god send with his raange and experience.
If you want to know the reason why I cannot pick FSU against Clemson, this is it. The combination of Trickett's first unofficial ACC Championship game and Clemson's WR corps against our talented but inexperienced secondary REALLY scares me. It’s a really early look I know but the expectation that the Noles should be in the hunt for another ACC Championship and contending for the NC next year is not as far fetched as you might think. I have heard people state that 9-3 is the consensus. This program is not in the rebuilding mode anymore, we are now in the in the re-loading phase now. Don't believe me? All you have to do is look at the current depth,the 2013 class (which isn't even finsihed) and the studs already committing for the 2014 class. I think the Noles are better than that dour prediction and go 11-1 (loss at Clemson), finish Top Ten again thus setting us up for the BIG RUN in 2014.