Florida State 2014 football schedule: Early opponent previews

Click through the slide show to see what each opponent brings back, then read my thoughts below.

Florida State's football schedule is out a bit earlier than expected.

Aug. 30 - Okla St. (Dallas)

This game is perfect for Florida State, as the Cowboys will continue to get a lot better later on in the year and the win will look better as the season goes on. Oklahoma State was one of the best teams in the country in 2013, with a fantastic defense, but seven starters on defense are gone. And seven are gone on offense as well, including almost anyone who ever caught a pass, the quarterback and two linemen. But it's not just that. Look at the reserves who have graduated, too. Oklahoma State had 10 players named to the 1st, 2nd or honorable mention All-Big XII team. All of them have graduated or declared for the NFL draft. This is one of the most graduation-ravaged rosters I have seen.

Sept. 6 -- Citadel

Home opener. As a rule, playing one D1-AA (FCS) team is OK, while playing two is generally a very bad idea as it provides an easy sound bite for talking heads, which could influence the playoff committee.

Sept. 13 -- bye

Resting up for Clemson.

Sept. 20 - Clemson

Clemson is likely Florida State's toughest test in the ACC for 2014, and the winner of the game has won the Atlantic Division for the last five seasons. Getting Clemson early is a big deal, as it loses a ton on offense and probably won't have it together in Week 4 of the season. But that doesn't even really begin to describe it. Clemson loses some of its best players ever on offense, including Boyd and Watkins, plus solid college starters in Thomas, McDowell, Shatley and Bryant. Defensively, though, this team has the personnel to play conservative in the back end and let its front seven win games for it. In actuality, Clemson was already doing this, as its defense was very underrated and its offense perhaps overrated. I suspect this will be a top-25 type team, with a top-10 defense and a top-30 type offense. But in September, it might be without that offense.

Sept. 27 -- at N.C. State

This is a weird team, ravaged by injuries to an extent in 2013. It now gets Jacoby Brissett at QB, after his transfer year. And really, this group doesn't lose all that much. But it was so bad in 2013, that a large improvement still does't make it one of FSU's toughest games.

Oct. 4 -- Wake Forest

Wake Forest does not have the athletes to compete with FSU. A new head coach won't do much to change that. The glaring weakness was already along the lines, and Wake loses five of its front-7 starters, and on offense, three starting linemen, the quarterback and the best tailback are gone.

Oct. 11 -- at Syracuse

Syracuse should be able to run the football well in most games and play more tough, aggressive defense, daring teams to hit big plays (FSU did in 2013).

Oct. 18 -- Notre Dame

This is my pick for the best team FSU will face. The offensive line should be very strong, as should the back seven. I have questions about Notre Dame's run defense and its receivers. Getting back Golson at QB from suspension is huge.

Oct. 25 -- Bye

The ACC seems to be done with the short rest Thursday night games.

Oct. 30 -- at Louisville

Bridgewater, Bridgewater, Bridgewater, but this team played very good defense and now loses five of its best seven along the defensive front. But the offensive line should be a lot stronger, which could mean a lot better run game.

Nov. 8 -- Virginia

Virginia should be improved somewhat, but this is still a nice respite between Louisville and Miami.

Nov. 15 -- at Miami

FSU fans swarm Sun Life Stadium every other year, and FSU has not lost a road game at Miami since 2004. Miami must pick between a quarterback with a very limited physical skill set (Ryan Williams), and one who cannot stay out of trouble (Kevin Olsen). The receiving corps is excellent, and at some point, one of these JUCO defensive tackles Miami is bringing in will work out in a big way.

Nov. 22 -- Boston College

Perhaps not the ideal tune up game for Florida, due to the Eagles' physicality, but a solid opponent nonetheless. BC projects to take a major step back on offense without its playmakers, and it is yet another team losing five of seven starters in the front-7.

Nov. 29 UF

I am not sure what to make of UF. By this point in the season, will the Gators have quit on a lame duck Will Muschamp? Or will UF have a resurgent year? Defensive tackle looks like a question, while defensive end should be really good. The secondary has some questions, too, as does linebacker. I don't think the defense will be anywhere near as good as what it could have been if healthy in 2013. The offense should be better with a somewhat better offensive line, provided it can both run Jeff Driskel a lot and keep him healthy. That might be tough.

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