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Podcast: Is FSU ready for the big time? Breaking down title hopes, Heisman race, Norvell’s ascension with Mike Golic Jr.

Conversation about Mike Norvell’s rise, Florida State’s expectations and more

The countdown to the season opener for the Florida State Seminoles against the LSU Tigers is just days away. It’s a highly anticipated game to kickoff a highly anticipated season.

The Seminole Wrap crew — Brian Pellerin, Jon Marchant and Ben Meyerson — released their 2023 season and LSU preview episode earlier this week.

But with so much excitement for the year, one episode wasn’t quite enough.

So we brought in the DraftKings Network’s Mike Golic Jr. to talk Florida State’s climb back to the national title conversation, Mike Norvell’s ascension through the coaching ranks and the Noles’ competition for the ACC crown.

Mike Norvell’s Rise in College Football

Four games into Mike Norvell’s second season at the helm, Florida State was at what felt like rock bottom. The Noles had just lost to the Louisville Cardinals to open the year with an 0-4 record including the shocking Week 2 loss to Jacksonville State.

Golic remembers calling that game against the Cardinals for ESPN and getting to attend practice the Friday before. Despite the 0-3 start to that point and the pressure ratcheting up around his job security in the fan base, the former Notre Dame offensive lineman recalls the mood around practicing being unexpectedly spirited, cheerful and confident

It’s not something you’d think to have around a struggling team. But Norvell’s team had it.

From that point, FSU has gone 15-6 and finds itself staring down enormous expectations in the chase for the ACC and the College Football Playoff. Golic believes all that stems from the attitude Norvell instilled even in the face of losing.

Jordan Travis, Heisman contender

Norvell not alone in climbing out of the hole.

That week against Louisville, McKenzie Milton took every snap at quarterback. The now star quarterback Jordan Travis was on the bench with a shoulder injury, three weeks removed from being benched against Notre Dame and losing the job in that Jacksonville State game.

Now, Travis has the third best odds to win the Heisman Trophy.

How did Travis make this transition and what is the real ceiling for him this season? Golic believes he is one of the best athletes in all of college football. Yes, one of the best runners, but he’s also shown incredible growth with his arm from that 2021 season.

Are the expectations legit?

Florida State enters the 2023 season as near co-favorites in the ACC with the Clemson Tigers and in the top eight in odds to win the national title — a stark contrast from where they were a year ago.

It’s breakneck speed from the bottom to potentially the top of the ladder, but Golic says the transfer portal allows programs to microwave the roster. Florida State has excelled at it with a roster full of transfer names leading the way.

He’s a big fan of Trey Benson’s running style and how he sets up his blockers for success. He’s excited to see how Johnny Wilson and Keon Coleman work as a one-two punch at receiver. But most of all, he’s excited to see how Norvell uses Jaheim Bell, one of his favorite players to watch while calling South Carolina games over the last few seasons.

Competition within the ACC

Talking heads have been predicting the demise of Clemson for a couple years now, but it hasn’t happened yet. And until someone takes it from them, Golic says they have to remain the favorites to win the conference again.

But that doesn’t mean FSU isn’t ready and capable to dethrone them.

He sees the ACC as a two-team conference at this point unless somebody makes a large jump and surprises. Pitt, Miami, North Carolina and NC State are all teams certainly capable of contending for the crown, but they remain a tier below the top-two in the conference in Florida State and Clemson

For more detail and insight on Golic’s thoughts on Florida State, the ACC and the CFP, listen to this bonus episode of the Seminole Wrap podcast available now.

Listen below, as well as on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your shows.