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Florida State football faces its toughest stretch yet

FSU encounters a season-ending schedule against opponents with a combined 27-5 record.

Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

When the schedule was released for the 2015 Florida State season, two stretches of games stuck out like a sore thumb. The first of those stretches came against Miami, Louisville, and Georgia Tech. With those games in the books and FSU coming out of it with a 2-1 record, the 'Noles now sit at 7-1 heading into the toughest four-game stretch in recent memory, one that will make or break the season.

The Seminoles will face Clemson on the road, return home to face NC State and Chattanooga, and then finish the regular season on the road, in Gainesville, to take on the Gators. Those teams currently have a combined record of 27-5. Included in that record is the only FCS team left on the slate, Chattanooga, which is 7-1, with the one loss coming to a 7-1 Jacksonville State team-- the same Jacksonville State squad that took Auburn to overtime at Auburn.

Clemson, NC State, and Florida all have defenses ranked in the top 15, giving up 303 yards per game or less. On the other side of the ball, Clemson leads the group, ranked 19th in total offense with North Carolina State and Florida ranked  64th and 83rd, respectively. The 'Noles currently rank 41st on offense and 24th on defense, and it is evident from the numbers that Florida State needs to have the defense rolling against the average NC State and UF offenses, as the Seminole's offense may not put up many points against them.

NC State currently holds the worst record of the group at 5-3, losing to Louisville, Clemson, and Virginia Tech, the only sub .500 team that any of the four teams have lost to. Despite their record, the Wolfpack put up 41 points in their loss to Clemson just a week after the Tiger's 58-0 shutout in Miami. Since 2000, the Seminoles are 9-6 against NC State with 10 games played between the two ending with a margin of victory of two touchdown or less. All six losses have come when Florida State was above .500.

Clemson and Florida are the two biggest rivalry games left on the 2015 slate, with the teams currently having a combined record of 15-1. They are also both ranked in the College Football Playoff top 10, with Clemson leading the way at #1. The last time FSU lost to both the Tigers and Gators in the same season was 2009, when the team finished the regular season at 6-6, something the 2015 'Noles don't have to worry about.

Clemson is the only team in the College Football Playoff top 10 to defeat another team currently inside the top 10, with its victory over Notre Dame. The only other wins that stands out on the Tiger's schedule are the 58-0 victory over Miami on the road and the aforementioned triumph over NC State.

Florida is 5-1 in the SEC this year with none of those six SEC teams currently under .500. The Gators' big victory on the season was against Ole Miss at home, and they suffered their only loss of the season on the road in Baton Rouge.

In 2005, Florida State finished the season in a very similar fashion to this year, when they played NC State at home before facing Clemson and Florida on the road to finish the season. The 'Noles went 0-3 after starting the year 7-1, and were outscored 36-89 in those games.

Florida State is still in a rebuilding stage for a highly anticipated 2016 season, and it is not truly feasible that they will finish the season 4-0, however it is college football-- anything can happen. It should be called a successful stretch if the Seminoles are able to take at least two of those games, leaving them in place for a very reputable bowl game in December.