Yet another sign of football’s return: our annual staff predictions as to just how the Seminoles will fare in the season ahead. So here are our individual forecasts— make sure to provide your own in the comments section below.
Florida State's "rebuilding" 2015 should pay off with a unit that is deep and experienced. Against last year's schedule, I think FSU likely goes undefeated. Things get a little more difficult this year, however, and between Ole Miss, Louisville, North Carolina, Clemson, Florida, and the ever-annoying Miami and NC State, I have to squint really hard to see a 12-0 FSU at the end of the year. Deondre Francois will be a huge factor in how things ultimately shake out, as even with an explosive player like Dalvin Cook in the backfield FSU will have to throw to win games.
The last time FSU had a redshirt freshman phenom at QB things went pretty well, but it's hard to predict a repeat of the magical 2013 season. I think FSU drops two and ends up in the Orange Bowl.
I think we have a lot of talent on offense, but it is the FSU defense that has me most confident in a strong year coming up. It sounds like Matthew Thomas has had a resurgent fall practice, and Jimbo Fisher and Charles Kelly build defenses from back to front. I like Florida State against both spread teams and 12/21-personnel. If the ‘Noles suffer 2-3 defeats, I’d attribute it more to the quality of teams they play this fall.
I think FSU splits the Ole Miss and Clemson games, beat both UM and UF, and lose one of two at Louisville and home to UNC. 10-2, but I think Clemson wins the Atlantic and the conference— that whole bit about not betting against a generational QB and all. Anyway, it sets FSU up nicely for a New Year’s Eve bowl. There’s an outside chance at going 12-0, but it’s not unrealistic at all in my book.
10-2. Francois could prove me wrong, and FSU could run the table, but there are too many uncertainties on the offense right now. Will a red-zone target emerge? Can Cook stay healthy? Is the offensive line going to put it all together? Put me down for a loss to Clemson and one of Louisville/Ole Miss/game they shouldn't lose.
Last year's team was a rebuilding squad replacing 29 NFL draft picks in three years. You could tell it was a rebuilding year due to Fisher’s words about youth, fundamentals, and teaching, but this year is different and Fisher knows what he has with this year's squad.
This team is not about rebuilding or youth; it's about consistency, about pushing, about being elite, and I believe they'll live up to the hype to the tune of a 12-1 record, an ACC title, and a two-seed in the College Football Playoff. This year's Seminole squad is an enigma in the sense that it is both young (only ten scholarship seniors) and experienced (17 returning starters) at the same time. I see a return to dominance. The offense should be very good with an talent-laced offensive line blocking for the best back in program history.
Francois will take advantage of the many loaded fronts by punishing defenses over the top with play-action to a, hopefully, bigger and improved receiving corps. I expect the defense to be salty, to be elite, a consistently statistical top-five unit while being the most versatile unit in the country. An elite pass rush, a much improved line-backing corps, and a secondary that should have the best pair of run-stopping safeties in the country should lead to some fun, bone-crushing defensive football.
Two freshman specialists lead the way at punter and kicker, and there are going to be growing pains, but the punt return unit as well as coverage should be much improved with older, better depth. FSU has a very a tough schedule with the biggest hiccups being Clemson, Louisville, Ole Miss, UNC, Miami, and UF, in that order, but I believe they have the talent and most importantly the depth to manage such a tough schedule with great success. I'm very bullish on this team and tempted to predict it to go 12-0, but my gut says youth at QB and special teams is going to cause FSU to lose one of those hiccups— but only one.
For the record, this team could go 12-0 in the regular season, and I wouldn't be shocked at all. However, 11-1 is the safe choice simply because it's difficult to put together a perfect season and there are definitely questions surrounding this team.
I do not think that one loss will not come at the hands of Clemson. Instead, I think Florida State's one regular season loss comes against a slightly more unlikely opponent. My first choice for that loss is Louisville, mainly because it's the third game in 17 days.
However, the loss not coming from Clemson would mean that FSU's 11-1 record would win the Atlantic Division, excepting a perfect conference record from UL. The Seminoles run through the Coastal winner and clinch a spot in the College Football Playoff alongside Clemson, whose only loss came to FSU.
This team very well could win a title but with the questions surrounding this team, I'm predicting a loss in the CFP semifinal. Put me down for a 12-2 final record on the year for the Seminoles.
I see FSU finishing the regular season at 11-1, with 10-2 more likely than 12-0. The ‘Noles will survive an early scare against Louisville but will fall against Clemson. FSU will remain state champions for another year but just miss out on the playoffs, instead getting a matchup against LSU in the Orange Bowl. Cook will lose the Heisman trophy to Leonard Fournette but will lead FSU to a victory over the Bayou Bengals. Derwin James will also cement his place among Seminole legends with a Thorpe Trophy.
Okay, folks. This is gonna be a really, really fantastic season, okay? I mean, like, you have no idea. Let's talk about Jimbo Fisher. Can I talk about Jimbo Fisher for a minute?! This guy is tremendous. Jimbo Fisher is thee best, okay? Can't say enough about him, folks.
We've built a huge scoreboard. The biggest scoreboard in the state. And the Champions Club? This place is un-believable. So classy. So good. Love the Club.
The defense, folks. The defense is gonna be so so good. I mean, some teams aren't going to score any points on FSU's defense. We're talking that good, folks.
The receivers! I love the receivers. These guys are incredible. Some really, really tremendous young play makers. Believe me. Watch!
Running backs! What about my running backs? I mean, wow. Can you believe it? Dalvin Cook? They're all tremendous.
But there's this young guy, I think he's named Amir Rasul. People tell me that's his name. He needs to be properly vetted. Lot of questions. Lot of questions about this young man, but that's all I'll say about that.
Predictions? We're gonna win, folks. We're gonna win so big. You'll be tired of all the winning. Everybody is saying "Oh, no! Clemson is really good this year!" Let me just tell you something, folks: Clemson is Not. Good. They're a disaster. Dabo is a disaster. I call him Yabo Dabo. Yabo Dabo! That's what I call him. I'm not worried about the Clemsons.
We. Are. Going. To. Win.
I do think this team is really special, but I also think we need to accept that Francois will have that one rookie game that 99% of first-year starters have that will result in a loss. The loss won't be because the other team was better, but rather because our redshirt-freshman QB will have a redshirt-freshman QB type game. There will be other times during the season when he has rookie moments, but I believe FSU's talent, defense, and depth advantage over every single one of its opponents will help overcome his rookie mistakes.
The timing of the loss will determine FSU's chances of making the playoff. If the loss comes early against Ole Miss, FSU will win the rest of games, the ACCCG, and make the playoff. However if FSU loses to Clemson, its playoff chances are probably eliminated, and FSU will then beat a Big Ten team in the Orange Bowl.
I do think the Noles will once again win the state championship, which you just know is going to drive both those delusional fan bases batsh!t crazy for another year, and they will have to resort to mocking the state champion rings.
FSU's 2016-17 record will be either 12-1 with the OB win, or 14-1 and its fourth national championship.
There is a lot of hype surrounding the 2016 Seminoles, as national sports writers are predicting playoff appearances and fans are expecting trophies. While I do believe this team is vastly superior than the one we watched in 2015, the overall difficulty of the schedule, particularly the opening eight games just appears like too much to overcome to make the Final Four, as Florida State faces five teams ranked in the AP Top 26 over those first 8 games.
I do believe Cook will have an incredible season and run for north of 1,700 yards. James will receive All-America honors, as will Rod Johnson. Francois will have his moments that get people extremely excited, but also his fair share of freshman mistakes. The lack of experience at quarterback, uncertainty, and lack of game reps on the right side of the offensive line, replacing a top-five NFL draft pick at boundary corner, as well as no confirmation that a big-play threat has emerged at wide receiver has me skeptical.
With injury luck and some quick maturation behind center, this team certainly has a ceiling of a national championship contender. In the end, I have the Seminoles losing to Louisville in a shootout, and, ultimately, I just think Clemson is a better team, especially at the quarterback position. That puts Florida State at 10-2 for the season and should result in an invitation to the New Year's Six Bowls with a spot in Miami Gardens for the Orange Bowl.
I'll predict that the 'Noles win 11 regular season games in 2016. At this point, this schedule is too tough and there are still a few too many questions at some key positions (QB, RT, WR, LB, special teams) to be able to predict an undefeated regular season.
I won't attempt to pinpoint what game I think the 'Noles might drop, but I will say that 11 wins and a borderline playoff berth is the floor. An undefeated regular season, an ACC title, and a playoff berth is the ceiling. I truly think that this is one of the best five teams in America, and if Frenchy is as good as we think he might be, this team is a serious national title contender in 2016.
Although the team will be more talented than last year, I foresee a repeat of the regular season record of 10-2. With a much tougher schedule, it is tough to see the Seminoles get through unscathed with potential to get beaten by Ole Miss, Clemson, Louisville, Florida, Miami or a slip up against NC State.
On the bright side, I do see Florida State getting another New Year’s Six bowl bid, and this time around, winning that game. Additionally, I believe that Cook will be a Heisman finalist after another stellar year to complete one of the best careers that a Seminole running back has ever had.
This team is capable of finishing the regular season a perfect 12-0. A punishing, athletic defense and a legit Heisman contender at RB is never a bad combo. But a difficult schedule and an ill-timed injury could also mean two, or even three, losses.
Ultimately, I don't think I can ever predict a perfect season— there are just too many variables in college football, and even the best teams pick up a loss from time to time. At the same time, I also don't think I can pin point any one specific loss.
The prediction: 11-1, with the loss coming to Clemson, Louisville, USF, or UNC. Should FSU make the ACCCG, I think it wins that too, which would almost assuredly mean a playoff bid.
The 2016 ‘Noles Handegg team looks destined for big things. Clemson is a tough matchup, but the Noles' length on defense and fantastic DL will force them to be one dimensional and hand the Noles the win in one of the biggest and best games of the year.
The defense will be stout, the best since 2013. The insane length in the back seven and the talent on the DL will make them assuredly elite, well inside the top five, nationally. A veteran OL, Cook, and an experienced receiving corps will make Francois' debut season a success. Look for a top-15 group here. On special teams, some new faces will improve return games. Logan Tyler has huge shoes to fill after Cason Beatty's phenomenal senior year, and young Aguayo will look to do the same.
My winshares make 10-2 the most likely result, but given how high I am on this team, an 11-1 or 12-0 regular season, an ACC championship, and a playoff berth seem very much in the cards.
Coming into a year like this one while working in the TN offices is scary for me. All you hear about is how great this player looked or how much of a leap forward that player took and how great the depth is all over the field. Compare that with the knowledge that FSU has a very difficult schedule and a large portion of that is early in the season combined with a new QB, an unproven but talented offensive line, and a receiving corps that lacks a true No. 1, and you can see how confused this can make a person feel.
I think FSU will drop a game early, and even though Clemson is the most likely choice, that Louisville game looms large. The nice thing about this schedule is that FSU has plenty of makeup time, so an early loss isn't a season ruiner. My mind says 9-3 is the most likely scenario, but I'll go with my heart and say 11-1.
I'm extremely excited about the upcoming season. I believe this FSU defense will be one of the top-five units in the country. If one or two of the bigger WRs steps up, I think the offense could be very good, as well (here’s hoping Fisher doesn't get too pass-happy). The special teams units are a major unknown, as you're dealing with true freshmen at punter and kicker.
I could honestly see anywhere from 0-2 losses for this Florida State squad. If they stay healthy, the ‘Noles could go undefeated, although the ridiculous schedule makes that highly unlikely. I'll go right in the middle and predict an 11-1 regular season for Fisher's boys. We'll have to wait and see if that's enough to make the College Football Playoff.
My win shares are closer to nine, but I see the Noles going 10-2. I want to predict 11-1 or 12-0 and a playoff berth. I hope this team can match the achievements of the 2013 team. But I don't think the defense will be quite as good. The receivers need multiple players to take the next step. Francois isn't Jameis Winston. And the schedule is tougher.
Cook may be good enough to overcome other deficiencies, but I think the ‘Noles come up just short against Clemson and stumble in several other losable games. Here's to hoping I'm wrong.
FSU is loaded.
The defense deploys several murder weapons led by the murderiest (yes, that's a word) of all: James. I have a hard time believing any team will have sustained success moving the ball on this defense. The DL should be stout against the run. The LB corps may have the closest thing CFB has seen to Jaylon Smith in Matthew Thomas. The secondary has endless depth that should be able to match up with even the most elite WR units.
On offense, FSU brings back the best RB in the country in Cook. Anchored by a massive OL with insane depth and talent and an NFL tight end, FSU will run and run some more. Shoot, they may even make Mark Richt quit before he even finishes the season. After all, he did lose to Treon Harris and whatever you want to call that offense at UF....twice!?! But I digress. Mr. Jimbo loves him some Francois, and I think he is in line for a very strong first season under center. Gonna need a big WR to step up, and I think the odds are favorable that it happens.
This schedule is a bear. Like a big-ass hungry grizzly bear ready to raid your camp site and eat all of your Little Debbie cakes. There are a ton of losable, games but I really look at it as a three-game schedule: Ole Miss, Louisville, and Clemson. I'm going with 11-1 and a birth in the playoff. I think it's more likely they're 10-2 than 12-0 by a slim margin. Should be a fun year.
14-1: I think Florida State will finish an undefeated season and get all the way to the National Championship before falling to Alabama. The youth of the 'Noles will have the energy and will power to make it that far, but the sheer talent of Alabama will be too much in the 15th and final game for FSU. I do, however, believe that the 'Noles will then defeat ‘Bama to begin the 2017 season.
Everyone has heard the old real estate emphasis on location, location, location. Well, a similar stress can be placed on a college football team’s schedule. That is, it’s not always so much about whom you’re playing, but when on your schedule — and where — you’re playing them. And that’s why I can’t pick an undefeated season for FSU in 2016.
While Florida State may just be more talented than every foe it will face this year, the first six games of the Seminoles’ slate look like one possible upset after another (excepting Charleston Southern in week two). After the ‘Noles face Ole Miss to open up, and then the aforementioned CSU, FSU travels to Louisville to face a Cardinals team viewed as a dark horse in the ACC Atlantic. Then the garnet and gold are at South Florida, in a game that will certainly be the Bulls’ Super Bowl. Then it’s the defending ACC Coastal champs from UNC. And then at Miami.
Exit the opening gauntlet, at least part of which the ‘Noles will navigate with a QB who’s never taken a collegiate snap in Francois. And, oh yeah, we’ve not yet come to the Clemson game. Or the always unsettling trip to Raleigh. Or Florida.
But, with regard to location, defense travels, and the Seminoles’ D looks beyond stout: it looks downright nasty. That, along with Cook and a plethora of experienced offensive linemen, could very well see the ‘Noles drop just a lone contest and make the conference championship game. I think they win the ACC yet again, and find themselves back in the College Football Playoff.
If you’d like to hear the predictions of our Bud Elliott and Ingram Smith, be sure to check out our prediction podcast (the latest ‘Nolecasts are included below).