One step closer to Florida State Seminoles football.
The ACC released the 2024 football schedule today (almost six weeks after the Big Ten and SEC did, mind you) and this iteration of the docket provides two new wrinkles for the 2024 season.
First, the induction of SMU, Cal, and Stanford into the conference, where FSU will take on two of the newcomers.
Second, the ‘Noles are the defending ACC champs and are the hunted, not the hunter, for the first time since 2015. The schedule has some quirks with multiple bye weeks, playing only four road games inside the U.S. and going to Europe.
What’s there to make of the slate? Here are 12 thoughts for the 12 games that Florida State will play in 2024, complete with superlatives and an early guess at how the game might go.
Week 0: Georgia Tech (Ireland)
Analysis: The ‘Noles kick off the 2024 season with an in-conference matchup on the other side of the world. This game becomes difficult to forecast because of the moving variables of playing a game in Europe. Florida State opened up as a two-touchdown favorite on numerous betting sites, but Georgia Tech returns vital pieces, especially on the offensive side of the ball. The Yellow Jackets finished 4-2 in their final six games with losses to Clemson and Georgia, and Haynes King finally hit his stride. Brent Key seems to have changed the culture in Atlanta and wants to build on a 7-6 season last year. The FSU defense struggled early in the season with communication, and a week less of preparation could hurt a unit breaking in a new starter at every level. At the end of the day, the ‘Noles should be fine but do not expect a shoo-in.
Week 1: Boston College (Monday night)
Superlative: Labor Day Love
Analysis: Three years in a row, and three straight games on Labor Day weekend for FSU. Florida State almost blew this game a year ago and now gets to face Castellanos for a second season in a row. BC should have a 1-2 punch in their backfield with Kye Robichaux and old friend Treshaun Ward. Like Georgia Tech, BC finished their season on a high note with a convincing victory over new conference member SMU in the Fenway Bowl and won a post-season game for the first time since 2016. FSU should take care of business, especially being at home at night after a long weekend. But, without an extra week off from Ireland, the chance of jet lag and a sleepy first half for the Seminoles could come into play.
Week 2: Bye #1
Week 3: Memphis
Analysis: Mike Norvell's first of two homecoming games takes place against Memphis in the middle of September. Memphis finished their season with a bowl victory over Iowa State, breaking the 10-win mark. The Tigers revamped their roster during the offseason, taking in 17 new players, including six who played for Power 5 schools a season ago. Along with the influx of talent, QB Seth Henigan returns for his 4th season as the starter after throwing for just under 4,000 yards of offense last season. Similar to the games before, if the ‘Noles take a day off, they could be in for some trouble. However, a group of 5 team walking into Doak and snatching a victory in a game that means so much to their coach feels unlikely.
Week 4: Cal
Superlative: Pacific Coast Conference
Analysis: Welcome to the ACC Cal! Due to conference realignment, the Golden Bears have flown in from San Fransisco to take on the defending conference champions. Cal has been on an upswing like all the teams that the Seminoles face. They won their last three games until their bowl game and finished postseason eligible for the first time since 2019. Late in the season, they turned the ball over to freshman QB Fernando Mendoza, and he should be able to improve upon his 14:10 TD: INTratio. The Golden Bears hit the portal hard and are taking in double-digit transfers along with a top-30 class, according to 247. Florida State at home against a team flying cross-country should be enough to win comfortably, but this is not the Cal team of the last few years.
Week 5: at SMU
Superlative: Homecoming #2
Analysis: Mike Norvell grew up not far from Dallas and should relish the opportunity to go back to his home state. What he will not enjoy is the opponent waiting for him. The Mustangs are my sleeper in the ACC next year. They won the AAC last year over a worthy Tulane team, and some feel they should have played in a New Year’s Six bowl (committee, am I right..?) After finishing with 11 wins last year, they hit the portal hard, racking up double-digit commitments, all from Power 5 schools. QB Preston Stone returns for another season and should be fully healthy after an injury cut his year short. He finished the campaign with a 28:6 TD: INT ratio and should improve on his 59% completion percentage last season. Even with all the new additions, the ‘Noles will be the more talented side, and Gerald Ford Stadium only holds 32,000 people, so it will not be a raucous road atmosphere. But look out a week before Clemson; this game will be closer than the experts think.
Opinion: Should win but closer to 50-50
Week 6: Clemson
Superlative: DJU Revenge game
Analysis: This year, three FSU players will face off against former rivals in three games (Davonte Brown vs. Miami, Richie Leonard vs. UF). But no game will mean more than D.J. Uiagelelei vs. Dabo Swinney and the Tigers. Clemson struggled last season, at one point sitting at .500. However, they return crucial pieces along their front seven, including DT Peter Woods and LB Barett Carter. QB Cade Klubnik returns for his second full season as the starter and will be throwing to two top 100 WRs, according to 247. The Tigers still have not taken a player from the transfer portal and will need some of their young recruits to step up in the secondary. Florida State earned their win on the road last season, but they have not beaten Clemson at home in a decade. This game always proves challenging, and as always, whoever wins the game along the line of scrimmage will come out victorious.
Week 7: Bye
Week 8: at Duke
Superlative: Drowsy in Durham
Analysis: For the first time since Tate Rodemaker snatched a victory over Louisville, Florida State plays on the road for an in-conference battle on Friday night. Forgive me, but I wouldn't say I like playing on the road in cold weather on an off-day in CFB, so this could be a stiff test. At least, FSU coming off a bye, should not struggle with a shorter week to prepare. The Blue Devils will be a different team from the squad that took FSU’s best punch last season. Manny Diaz takes over for the departing Mike Elko, and Maalik Murphy transferred in to play QB for Riley Leonard, who the ‘Noles will see later in the season. The Duke roster took a hit in the portal with two of their top defensive linemen, RJ Oben and Aeneas Peebles, leaving the program and only six incoming transfers. Florida State will have their hands full with Murphy but should be able to move the ball and utilize their heavy talent advantage.
Week 9: at Miami
Superlative: Brown Family bowl
Analysis: After all that, with the Cam Ward sweepstakes, Miami got their guy and boasted talent everywhere. The offensive line led by LT Francis Mauigoa should be among the best in the ACC, if not the best. On defense, Rueben Bain Jr. looks to build on his ACC freshman of the year season and should be a premier player in college football. Both teams will be coming off road games against difficult opponents as UM plays Louisville the week before, while FSU gets an extra day of preparation after playing on a Friday. However, Miami will most likely be favored in this game, and the Seminoles will need their best. The roster has talent everywhere, and Cam Ward could be the missing piece. It is Miami at the end of the day, but this game could decide one-half of the ACC championship game.
Week 10: UNC
Superlative: Trap Game
Analysis: This, to me, feels like the true trap game. Sandwiched between the two most challenging games of the season, FSU gets a home date with UNC. The Tar Heels should take a step back from last season after losing QB Drake Maye and WR Tez Walker to the draft. Max Johnson from Texas A&M comes in to replace the future first-round pick but has a much lower ceiling. Moreover, the UNC defense should look different next season under new DC Gene Chizik as he takes over a unit that fell apart last season. Unfortunately for their former Auburn head coach, Mack Brown’s team lost 19 players to the portal and only took one addition on the defensive side of the ball. Could Max Johnson come into Tallahassee and set the world on fire with a talented offense and mediocre defense? It’s possible, and given the schedule for FSU, they cannot take their final conference game lightly.
Week 11: at Notre Dame
Superlative: Most difficult
Analysis: The Seminoles go on the road for what should be a frigid South Bend in a late-season heavy-weight clash. Even with the addition of Cam Ward, the Irish may be the toughest test of the season. This should be Marcus Freeman’s most talented team in his third season as head coach at ND. He stayed selective in the portal but found quality talent in QB Riley Leonard, WR Beaux Collins, and Edge R.J. Oben. The Irish return seven starters on defense and look to have the talent in the wings to replace those leaving. If Leonard can get the offense rolling with a new OC, Notre Dame could be a top-10 team at the time of this matchup and have one foot in the door for the 12-team playoff. FSU will most likely be underdogs in this game and need to find a way to stay balanced on offense against a stout run defense.
Week 12: Bye #3
Week 13: Charleston Southern
Analysis: For the second year in a row, Florida State welcomes an FCS opponent to Tallahassee the week before they take on the Gators. Florida State struggled with a lower-division school last year and lost to one in 2021. Hopefully, FSU will learn from the lessons under Mike Norvell's tenure and come out ready to go from the first whistle in this one.
Week 14: Florida
Superlative: Nail in the Napier coffin
Analysis: Could the Sunshine Showdown be the last game Billy Napier coaches the Florida Gators? It could be after UF faces the hardest schedule in the country this season. Graham Mertz returns for his second season under center after an above-average year in 2023, but this could be D.J. Lagway’s team by the time the clock turns to November. Florida lost a ton in the portal, including Edge Princley Umanmielen, LB Scooby Williams, and starting OG Richie Leonard, who now dons garnet and gold. However, Florida has played Mike Norvell’s teams tough the last few seasons when FSU should have blown the Gators out. Florida State will be more talented on both sides of the ball, but these games always tend to be closer than they should be.