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Which games on FSU’s schedule are the most important?

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And which are the most difficult?

NCAA Football: Orange Bowl-Michigan vs Florida State Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

When Florida State suits up against Alabama on September 2nd, there is no doubt that it will be one of the most difficult games on the Seminoles’ schedule.

The Crimson Tide have signed the No. 1 recruiting class every year since 2011 and have dominated the world of college football on an unprecedented level. Nick Saban has won four national titles with Alabama and his squad is the odds-on favorite to win it again this year. If Florida State is to win in Atlanta, they will need to bring their ‘A’ game.

But is FSU’s game against Alabama the most important game on the schedule?

While the neutral site opener against the Crimson Tide is being billed as one of the best openers of all time, there are other games on Florida State’s schedule that might be more important. A trip to Death Valley against Clemson certainly looms large, as the winner of that matchup has gone on to win the ACC every year since 2011. The Miami Hurricanes also visit Tallahassee fairly early in the season and the ’Noles have an opportunity to make it eight in a row against their rivals.

I posed this question to the members of Tomahawk Nation’s group chat and we seemed to all agree on the fact that, while Alabama is the most difficult game on the schedule, it is not the most important.

For one, the Seminoles can lose to Alabama in the opener and still fulfill their season goals of winning the ACC title and getting to the playoffs. In fact, current odds have Florida State as nearly a touchdown underdog in that game, but still have the ’Noles as the fourth highest overall to win the national title.

As such, games against Clemson, Miami and even North Carolina State loom larger in terms of importance for FSU.

So which games are the most difficult? And which ones are the most important?

Rather than give my own opinion, I asked our group chat to rank every game from 1 to 12 in terms of difficulty and importance so we could build a consensus.

Difficulty

Here are our rankings for the most difficult games on FSU’s schedule, along with their consensus rankings.

  1. vs Alabama (1.06)
  2. at Clemson (1.93)
  3. vs Louisville (3.53)
  4. at Florida (4.06)
  5. vs NC State (5.20)
  6. vs Miami (FL) (5.33)
  7. at Duke (7.33)
  8. at Boston College (8.20)
  9. at Wake Forest (8.60)
  10. vs Syracuse (9.33)
  11. vs Louisiana-Monroe (11.00)
  12. vs Delaware State (12.00)

There was never a question Alabama was going to take first in this poll and the road tilt against Clemson was also a near unanimous No. 2 as well.

Louisville, Florida and NC State rounded out the top five. The Cardinals return the defending Heisman Trophy winner in Lamar Jackson, a trip to the Swamp is never an easy task, and the Wolfpack seem to be quietly sliding under the radar as one of the better teams in the ACC.

While there has been a lot of talk about Miami and what they could accomplish this season, we agreed that it is not one of the more difficult games on the schedule. With Brad Kaaya in the NFL, the Hurricanes will be breaking in a new quarterback when they travel to Doak Campbell Stadium in week three. Not an easy task.

Florida State faces one of the most difficult schedules in the country in 2017. Alabama, Florida, Clemson, Louisville, and Miami enter the season as ranked teams, with NC State just on the outside of the Top 25 as well. Getting through this schedule with eve two loses might merit a spot in the playoffs.

Importance

Next up is our rankings of the most important games on FSU’s schedule, along with their consensus rankings.

  1. at Clemson (1.06)
  2. vs Louisville (2.80)
  3. vs Miami (FL) (3.26)
  4. at Florida (4.06)
  5. vs NC State (5.13)
  6. vs Alabama (5.46)
  7. at Wake Forest (7.80)
  8. at Boston College (8.13)
  9. vs Syracuse (8.40)
  10. at Duke (9.60)
  11. vs Louisiana-Monroe (10.73)
  12. vs Delaware State (11.53)

Clemson was a near consensus as the top pick, seeing as the winner of that game has gone on to win the ACC for the past six seasons. Louisville was second, a division opponent who handed FSU one of their worst losses in school history last season. Win both of those games and you likely return to Charlotte for a berth in the ACC championship game.

Miami and Florida were next up, likely because both are rivals. Florida State has a chance to make it eight in a row against the Hurricanes and five in a row against the Gators this season. The trio of programs routinely battle against each other on the recruiting trail and another win in the series will mean that the ’Noles continue to have a leg up with prospects.

Alabama finishes all the way at No. 6 behind NC State. We seemed to agree that, while beating the Crimson Tide would be a terrific accomplishment, there are other games on the schedule that are more important to FSU’s season goals.

How would you rank it? Which games on FSU’s schedule are the most important to their season goals?