College football season has finally arrived, and Florida State will begin the 2022 campaign at home Saturday against FCS Duquesne. Head coach Mike Norvell enters his third season in Tallahassee as the Seminoles look to snap a streak of four straight losing seasons.
FSU did win five of its final eight games last season after its first 0-4 start since 1974. The 5-7 campaign did feature a loss to Jacksonville State — FSU's first-ever defeat at the hands of an FCS school. The Seminoles will try to avoid having history repeat on Saturday. They'll also look to start 1-0 for the first time since 2016.
Duquesne, on the other hand, will look to knock off an FBS school for the second year in a row. While the Dukes were blown out by TCU last season, they did notch a narrow 28-26 win at Ohio. Overall, Duquesne finished 7-3 in 2021. Saturday's contest at Doak Campbell Stadium will be the first-ever meeting between the schools.
Duquesne at Florida State
Kickoff: Saturday, Aug. 27 at 5 p.m. ET
TV: ACC Network
When Duquesne Has the Ball
Duquesne will return its leading passer and rusher from last season, but the Dukes' depth chart isn't clear about who will start at quarterback. Darius Perrantes finished with 1,620 passing yards and 19 total touchdowns last season. Perrantes and Joe Mischler are currently listed as co-starters at quarterback. Mischler averaged 239 passing yards per game during the COVID-19-altered 2020 season before going down with an injury in last season's opener.
Also in the backfield, Billy Lucas returns after rushing for 699 yards and six touchdowns. As a team, Duquesne ranked just sixth in the eight-team Northeast Conference last season in yards per game but finished second in scoring. The Dukes do most of their damage on the ground. Against TCU last season, Duquesne was held to just 137 yards of total offense in a 45-3 loss. That was its only contest against Power 5 competition.
For FSU, the biggest question will be replacing the pass-rushing voids left behind by Jermaine Johnson II and Keir Thomas. The interior of the defensive line, however, is stout with Fabien Lovett and Robert Cooper. For the first time in a long time, the linebacker position may be a clear strength for FSU. Tatum Bethune comes over from UCF after earning second-team All-AAC honors in 2021. He'll be joined by returning linebackers Kalen DeLoach, Amari Gainer, and DJ Lundy, all of whom had at least 59 total tackles last season.
If the game goes as planned, FSU will force Duquesne to pass. Safety Jammie Robinson headlines the defense after an All-ACC campaign in 2021. He led the Seminoles with 84 tackles and four interceptions. Cornerbacks Omarion Cooper and Kevin Knowles each came on strong down the stretch for FSU last season. The Seminoles finished in the upper half of the ACC in total and scoring defense last year.
When Florida State Has the Ball
The Florida State offense will only go as far as quarterback Jordan Travis will take it. Travis is 7-6 as a starter over the last two seasons while everyone else for FSU is 1-7. In the lone victory that he didn't start, Travis came off the bench and rallied the Seminoles from a 14-0 deficit to beat Jacksonville State in 2020. A stellar athlete who has always made things happen with his legs, Travis made huge strides as a passer in 2021. He finished with 22 total touchdowns and just six interceptions. Leading rusher Jashaun Corbin is gone, but Treshaun Ward, Lawrance Toafili, and Oregon transfer Trey Benson are a capable trio at running back. Ward led the ACC last season by averaging 6.4 yards per carry.
The offensive line has long been a sore spot for the Seminoles, but there is good depth there finally, and guard Dillan Gibbons returns after garnering All-ACC honorable mention in 2021. Leading receiver Ontaria Wilson and tight end Camren McDonald return, but FSU is hoping a quartet of transfers at wide receiver will give that position group a boost. Last season, the Seminoles ranked in the bottom half of the ACC in total and scoring offense.
On the other side, Duquesne ranked third in the NEC in total defense and fourth in scoring defense in 2021. At 315 pounds, Maxi Hradecny will be a load to block for the FSU offensive line. Last season, he ranked second on the team in sacks and tackles for a loss. On the edge, Kevin Kurzinger also is coming off a strong campaign in which he led the Dukes with eight tackles for a loss.
The departure of Leandro DeBrito leaves a void at linebacker, but Duquesne should still be fine along the back levels of its defense. Linebacker Todd Hill was a preseason All-NEC pick. Cornerback Jermaine Josephs returns after tying for the team lead with two interceptions. Last season, Duquesne ranked in the top 25 in FCS in scoring defense.
Duquesne was picked to finish second in the NEC and should be a nice FCS test for Florida State to kick off the 2022 campaign. Unlike last season against Jacksonville State when they were coming off a tough loss to Notre Dame on a short week, the Seminoles should be focused for this one. The Duquesne defense stands a chance to find some success early, but FSU's offense should eventually assert its will. As for the defense, this is a game the Noles should dominate from the start.
Prediction: Florida State 52, Duquesne 10
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— Written by Mike Ferguson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson.