Florida State’s 2018 football schedule has been released, and if you’re a fan of the Seminoles, let this serve as your annual reminder that you’re now required to set yourself on fire and jump off the tallest building you can find while screaming about the myriad injustices of the ACC.
But before we resort to old habits, let’s actually break this thing down. Because it’s really not bad at all.
We’ve known for a while, but FSU will begin with a primetime conference game, hosting Virginia Tech on Labor Day evening. It’s an immediate test, for sure, but if you like big, splashy openers, this is a nice middle-of-the-road sort of game. It’ll feature two ranked teams, but the ’Noles will be at home in front of what stands to be a raucous Doak Campbell Stadium crowd eager to check out the Taggart era. Let’s put it this way: it’s not exactly Alabama in Atlanta— and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Then comes the weakest part of the schedule, a four-game stretch composed of a home game against Samford, a trip to Syracuse, another Tallahassee tilt, against Northern Illinois, and a road game at Louisville. And then the Seminoles head to Miami.
If FSU can top VT, there’s a very real chance that they could roll into South Beach 5-0. As far as road ACC-openers go, Syracuse will be the Seminoles’ easiest game away from home. And that Louisville game probably catches a lot of eyes, given the embarrassment that Florida State suffered the last time it played there. But the Cardinals are (finally) without Lamar Jackson, so it benefits the ’Noles to get UL while it’s still breaking in a new quarterback.
After Miami comes FSU’s bye week, which is located exactly in the middle of the regular season, with six games before it and another six after. It’s nice to have that break after what is always an emotional matchup with the Hurricanes, but following the bye is a home game with Wake Forest, and you’d typically prefer your bye to precede an elite opponent (sorry, Deacs). Although maybe the bye, followed by Wake, heading into a home game against Clemson serves as a bit of a double-bye, since WF could be FSU’s easiest home ACC foe.
That Clemson contest begins an absolutely brutal five-game stretch to close out the regular season. After the Tigers, the Seminoles have their second spell of back-to-back road games in 2018— which is less than desirable, in and of itself. Factor in that it begins at NC State, always a harrowing destination for the ’Noles, and is followed up by a roadie to Notre Dame, perhaps the toughest away game on the FSU schedule. Oh, and that date with the Irish? November 10, when the weather in northern Indiana can be less than inviting.
Florida State then closes its schedule with a pair of games at home, versus a BC squad that just got done trouncing the Seminoles and always seems to play them tough, followed by the annual grudge match against Florida. It’s a backloaded schedule, to be certain, but that probably benefits the ’Noles as they get to know each other under a new staff that still has to cohere. Another positive, along those lines? After that opener on a Monday night, FSU plays all Saturday games, so this group, while it grows and learns together, will not be challenged by Thursday or Friday games that disrupt a team’s schedule.
Is this schedule ideal? No. But how many fanbases can really claim a perfect schedule anyway? Okay, maybe Clemson. There are positive and negative traits to the path that the ’Noles will travel in 2018, but, mostly, it’s just a tough schedule, and there are only so many ways to arrange this many quality opponents.