Clemson is the heavy favorite to win the ACC Atlantic title, but Florida State isn’t too far behind in the division pecking order. The Seminoles return 10 starters, including one of the best offensive lines in the ACC, and a plethora of talented skill players at running back and receiver. The defense returns only four starters, but there’s no shortage of talented options stepping into the lineup.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston is expected to be one of college football’s top breakout players for 2013, and the first-year starter could be an All-ACC quarterback by the end of the season. If Winston quickly settles into the starting role, and the coaching staff meshes with six new assistants, Florida State could be in position for a BCS bowl at the end of the year.
What will Florida State's record at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates:
Florida State's 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions
9/2 at Pittsburgh
9/28 at Boston College
10/19 at Clemson
10/26 NC State
11/9 Wake Forest
11/30 at Florida
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
For a team that will start a redshirt freshman quarterback, has six new assistant coaches and must replace a handful of key players on defense, the Seminoles drew the perfect schedule for 2013. Sure, there’s potential for road upset losses at Wake Forest or Pittsburgh, but it’s hard to see Florida State losing three games this year. Road dates at Clemson and Florida will be the toughest on the schedule, and the home Nov. 2 matchup against Miami will be a challenge. The Seminoles should get better as the year progresses and having five games before playing Clemson is a huge advantage for their ACC Atlantic title hopes. However, the Tigers have won five consecutive matchups against Florida State in Death Valley and should hold the edge in this contest for 2013. With a favorable schedule and a potential superstar in Jameis Winston taking over at quarterback, the Seminoles could use 2013 as a stepping stone to an even bigger 2014.
David Fox (@DavidFox615)
The question is for Florida State is, as always, if the Seminoles are going to get tripped up against an opponent they should defeat soundly. It’s really tough to pinpoint one for 2013. NC State has won two of the last three, but both of those victories were in Raleigh. The opener against Pittsburgh seems like a good upset-bait kind of game, but the Panthers might not be good enough to pull that off early in the season. If Florida State is going to stumble, my guess is that it comes around the Miami or Wake Forest games. Miami has lost three in a row in the series, but the Hurricanes usually play well in Tallahassee. As for the Florida game — unless Jameis Winston turns out to be a game-breaking quarterback by the regular season finale. That’s going to be a defensive slugfest.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
This is a really, really talented Florida State team that can absolutely win the league. That said, two factors may keep this team from winning back-to-back ACC championships. Starting quarterback Jameis Winston will be a superstar eventually, but he will be making his first 12 appearances on a college gridiron this season. And the Clemson game will be in Death Valley. Otherwise, there is little standing in the way of another 10-win season for Jimbo Fisher. The annual bout with Miami comes in Doak Campbell and may be the only other ACC game the Seminoles aren't heavily favored in.
John Cassillo, (@JohnCassillo), Atlantic Coast Convos
Florida State's defense will be fine once again, so don't expect a drop-off on that side of the ball at all. Where there may be some concern, however, is with the quarterback situation. I believe redshirt freshman Jameis Winston is the real deal, but his ability to jump right into the starting passer role is imperative to the Seminoles' success this year. The schedule, of course, lays out nicely for a nine-win season at the very least. But whether Winston's ready for the spotlight will be the deciding factor in tough matchups with Clemson, Miami and Florida, respectively.
Matt McClusky, (@MatthewMcClusky), NunesMagician.com
It's been an interesting few months since last we saw Florida State beat down Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl. Gone is most of the defense, starting quarterback, and six assistant coaches. But Jimbo Fisher's squad still has more than enough young talent to hang around the top of the ACC this season. Freshmen Jameis Winston, likely heir to EJ Manuel's QB throne, shined in the spring, and new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, a Nick Saban disciple, should have an immediate impact. Game one at Pittsburgh could be a season-definer, if only because of its meaning for the Panthers, playing their first ever ACC game against a top-tier team. Lose here and it's a season wasted for Florida State. I say Seminoles survive and then fatten up on cupcakes before a mid-October showdown with Clemson. Personally, I think the Tigers are a sleeper for the BCS title game, meaning Florida State isn't leaving Death Valley on good terms. The only other L out there for the Seminoles should be at Florida to close the year, but you have to wonder if there is another boneheaded loss out there, a la N.C. State in 2012? If not it will be another respectable 10 wins in Tallahassee and a bowl sponsored by a product you've actually heard of. Not exactly the national championship, but there's always next year, 'Noles fans! Actually, 2014 could be the year you've been waiting for.
EJ Manuel is in the NFL, but redshirt freshman Jameis Winston should become the next great Seminole signal-caller. Winston will have the weapons to do some damage on offense and also benefits from not having to face the FSU defense. That said, he is still young and inexperienced, and I think the growing pains will be on full display in the 'Noles' two toughest games of the season - at Clemson and at Florida. Outside of these two, I think Jimbo Fisher's team has a great shot at 10 wins in the regular season, although even that may not be enough for the Noles to get a chance to defend their ACC crown.
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