Florida State will play a 2013 football schedule consisting of Florida, Clemson, Miami, Syracuse, Maryland, Boston College, N.C. State, Pitt, Wake Forest, Idaho, Nevada and Bethune Cookman.
This schedule sets up to produce another nice season. While FSU should not and will not be the conference favorite, it can win 10 games against this slate if it plays well and stays healthy.
- A young, rebuilding FSU team has time to gel before playing veteran squads from Clemson and Miami.
- No back-to-back games against the top teams on the schedule.
- A bye week before Clemson, which is FSU's most important game this year.
- No cold-weather games, as Pitt and BC are in September.
Monday, September 2 (Labor Day): at Pitt Panthers
The Panthers are a program on the rise and made a bowl game in 2012 in the first year of a new system. Pitt returns 50% of its receiving yards, and must replace leading rusher Ray Graham, though sophomore Rushel Shell is very talented and was solid as a freshman. QB Tino Sunseri is gone, but he wasn't very good. Pitt had a very solid defense in 2012, and returns 9 of 11 starters and 19 of 22 contributors.
Timing impact: FSU will be breaking in a ton of new players, and this will not be easy. However, FSU does have some familiarity with Pitt's offense, having faced it in the 2009 Champs Sports Bowl (Pitt HC was Wisconsin's OC), and defensive end coach Sal Sunseri is the father of departed Pitt QB Tino. FSU will be favored, but this is far from a lock.
September 14: Nevada Wolfpack
Nevada has a very nice offense, but I wonder how good it will be without 2,050 rushing/receiving running back Stephon Jefferson, who left early for the NFL draft. The Wolfpack must replace two starting offensive linemen, and 50% of its receiving yards. While Nevada returns all of its defensive linemen, it must replace all three starting linebackers and three of its four secondary starters.
September 21: Bethune Cookman
The replacement for Wofford
September 28: at Boston College
The Eagles return 84% of their receiving yards from 2012, which is very good. QB Chase Rettig is also back, as are all of the running backs. But both tackles are gone, as it the tight end. With a new coaching staff wanting to emphasize a smash mouth running game, one has to wonder just how well it will work. BC's personnel is a better fit for spreading things out and throwing the football. On defense, BC returns 9 of 11 starters and 19 of 22 defensive contributors. BC was very bad last year, and should improve, but the Eagles could improve significantly and still not be considered a good team.
Timing impact: FSU will have some time to work out some kinks after opening with an ACC game.
October 5: Maryland
The Terrapins do return 73% of their receiving yards from 2012, including their top two pass catchers in Stefon Diggs and Marcus Leak. I have no idea who will QB the team, though the protection should be better with three returning starters and no reserves lost. This was perhaps the worst offense in the history of BCS conferences, but the defense was pretty good. Now, Maryland must replace 5 of 11 starters, and that will not be easy.
Timing impact: Minimal.
October 12: Bye
October 19: at Clemson
Clemson looks like the ACC's best team, and FSU shouldn't be expected to end its losing streak in death valley, which currently sits at five games. But Clemson is not without some issues. While there is a ton of skill position talent returning, only 41% of the receiving yards return, and Hopkins and Ellington are important losses. Clemson returns 4 of 5 starting offensive linemen and 9 of 10 overall. Defensively, the Tigers were somewhat improved in 2012, but were still poor. A jump is expected in 2013, the second in a new defensive system. Clemson should be much better on the defensive line, returning 4 of 5 starters and 8 of 9 contributors. Linebacker should also be improved, as most everyone is back. In the secondary, however, Clemson must replace three of four starters, but there are some experienced reserves. This is FSU's most important game of the year and its ticket back to another BCS game.
Timing impact: Getting a bye before this game is important. It's the ACC's showcase game. Two years ago the league screwed this up by making this game after Oklahoma.
October 26: N.C. State
The Wolfpack lose their QB, both guards and their center on offense, and 30% of its receiving yards. Expect a much more wide open attack under the new coaching staff. The defense will be led by the line, which returns three starters and seven of nine contributors overall. Three of four top linebackers return, but the secondary was hit hard, losing three starters and another key reserve.
Timing impact: There is the potential for lookahead with Miami on deck, and of course the hangover factor coming off the Clemson game. Plus, N.C. State has a bye before the game, and will have it circled.
November 2: Miami
The Hurricanes should be one of the ACC's best teams. Miami returns its QB, 78% of its receiving yards, and its entire offensive line. Miami does need to find a running back other than Duke Johnson, who is electric but can't fill the void all by himself. Miami also returns 10 of 11 starters, and 22 of 25 contributors on defense. This is a very experienced team, but also one that convincingly handled in Miami in 2012. Is Miami actually going to be good, or just experienced? Miami does lose both its kicker and its punter, and while FSU has won four of the last five and six of the last eight in the series, this is a year in which it will really help to play in Doak.
Timing impact: Miami is probably the third-toughest opponent for FSU, and it helps to not have to play them right before after Clemson or Florida.
November 9: at Wake Forest
Wake returns a very nice group from a team that went 5-7 last season. One of the seven was a 52-0 loss at the hands of FSU. Wake brings back its QB, its running backs, and 65% of its receiving yards, plus the eight of its ten offensive linemen in the two-deep. FSU is, amazingly, just 4-4 against Wake Forest since the league expanded.
Timing impact: There is certainly an opportunity for a hangover here coming off Miami.
November 16: Syracuse
The Orange were a strong team last year and made a bowl game. However, they now lose their coach to the NFL, QB to the NFL, the left side of the offensive line and the top two receivers. Two backup offensive linemen, the backup tight end and backup QB were also seniors. Syracuse returns 6 of 11 defensive starters, and 15 of 22 in the defensive two-deep. This looks like a rebuilding year for Syracuse.
Timing impact: None.
November 23: Idaho Vandals
Idaho was one of the worst D1 teams in 2012, and is a perfect opponent for senior day and the week before the road trip to Florida.
November 30: at Florida Gators
The Gators should again be very good, though the makeup of the team might be one that is better on offense and worse on defense than it was in 2012. The Gators lose Josh Evans, Matt Elam, Sharrif Floyd, Omar Hunter, Jelani Jenkins and Lerentee McCray on defense. On offense, they return 34% of receiving yards, 646 of 1902, and a decent number of offensive linemen.