On Tuesday afternoon, TomahawkNation.com was the first to break and comment on the 2016 Florida State football schedule. We've already written an early analysis of that schedule, which was also the focus of the last Nolecast, so now that we know whom the 'Noles will be playing when, how many Seminole fans figure to be in the stands?
Frankly, this schedule looks to play out very favorably for the garnet and gold. The opener, against Ole Miss in Orlando, is perfect. It's a centrally located game in the state of Florida, in a city in which the 'Noles have not played since their 2011 bowl victory over Notre Dame. Expect Ole Miss to travel well, but FSU fans figure to show up in droves.
Next comes the home opener in Tallahassee against Charleston Southern. The Seminoles could be a bit banged up after playing the Rebels, and I really like the idea of bringing in a lesser opponent to open the home schedule, as the FSU faithful will nevertheless be so hungry to see their Seminoles again, along with tailgating outside a recently renovated Doak Campbell Stadium-- especially in a year in which the 'Noles could vie for a College Football Playoff bid. Add in the fact that a probable blowout here could facilitate the first look at a number of young players, and it stands to reason that Tallahassee businesses should be quite happy with this turnout.
After that, Florida State hits the road for its first true road game of the 2016 season, a Saturday date at Louisville. This seems like a fun road-trip possibility for FSU fans, as it's early enough in the season, on September 17, that northern Kentucky temperatures shouldn't be too chilly. Also, this weekend is the opening of the Churchill Downs Fall Meet. And while I don't know much about horse racing, I do know that it's a really big deal in Kentucky-- and, most specifically, Louisville. Yes, it's about a ten-hour drive from Tallahassee, but you could do a lot worse for road venues at this time of the year. Ample 'Nole support seems possible.
September 24 sees the 'Noles return to Florida for a road game against South Florida. This one will take place in the Tampa Bay Bucs' Raymond James Stadium, giving west Florida's FSU supporters a shot to see the Seminoles in a pro stadium. Expect them to show out in numbers.
On October 1st, Florida State will head home for its first conference home game, a tilt with the reigning ACC Coastal Division champion North Carolina Tar Heels. FSU fans who choose to eschew the Charleston Southern opener are unlikely to pass up this treat, as we only get a chance to see the Heels visit Doak every twelve years, and they play an extremely entertaining, up-tempo style of football. Get your hotel reservations soon.
Then it's time for the trip to Miami. The 'Noles have defeated the 'Canes seven straight times just once, and that was in a stretch from 1963 to 1972 in which the two rivals didn't even play every year. A win in Miami Gardens this year would equal that mark, though in consecutive years. If Miami takes care of business against a weak early schedule, this game should once again see these rivals meet as ranked foes, and Sun Life Stadium figures, once again, to turn into Doak South.
Wake Forest is not exactly an opponent that elicits a ton of excitement, but the 'Noles returning home after another win over Miami wouldn't exactly hurt. That said, this could be a good value for those looking to take in a home game at a more reasonable price.
Two weeks later, following a bye for each team, FSU hosts Clemson in what should not only be the ACC game of the year, but perhaps the nation's most important regular-season showdown. This could very well be a top-five matchup, in primetime, for the ACC title and a trip to the College Football Playoff. Regardless of how the season has gone to this point, don't expect any empty seats.
The possibility of a big let-down exists after that tilt against the Tigers, but the trip to NC State isn't terribly unmanageable at an eight-hour drive from Tallahassee. However, given the Seminoles' difficulty in Raleigh over the last decade, and the affinity of Wolfpack fans for flying bags of urine, this one may feature scant 'Nole attendance at Carter-Finley Stadium.
Then it's back home for Military Appreciation Day against Boston College on a Friday night. Normally, attendance wouldn't look too great for this home contest sandwiched between Tally dates with Clemson and UF, but the fact that this Friday happens to be Veteran's Day, when many have off work, may factor into more making the trip to Doak. On the other hand, high school football games could be a detriment to attendance.
The Seminoles' final road contest of the year comes at Syracuse. Fortunately for FSU, this November 19 game in upstate New York is in a dome. Unfortunately for Florida State fans, the rest of Syracuse is not. That being the case, don't expect to see a lot of 'Nole supporters in the stands for this one, especially given the finale on deck.
And that would come against the Florida Gators in Tallahassee. FSU has won four of the last five in this bitter rivalry, and the stands should certainly be packed to see if the 'Noles can make it four straight against UF.