Florida State head coach Mike Norvell will have his work cut out for him in year No. 1. With spring football canceled, Norvell will take over a program coming off back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since the mid-1970s.
The ACC is regarded as one of the weaker Power 5 conferences, so the Seminoles will have the chance to move up the ranks quickly. The non-conference slate for FSU however, is fairly daunting. The Seminoles finished 6-7 last season with a schedule ranked outside the top 50 by Jeff Sagarin.
FSU has finished just a combined 18-20 over the last three seasons. The threat of COVID-19 has left football season in doubt, but assuming there are games, FSU has its work cut out for it.
The Seminoles will face three teams that played in New Year’s Six bowls last season. Fortunately, two of them are at home.
Bye: Week 4
Week 1 – Sept. 5 vs. West Virginia (Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta)
Florida State's first game of the last decade was against West Virginia. That'll again be the case for this decade as the teams are set to meet in Atlanta. The Seminoles beat the Mountaineers 33-21 in the Gator Bowl – legendary head coach Bobby Bowden's final game – on Jan. 1, 2010.
This will be the first meeting between the schools since West Virginia joined the Big 12. The teams were set to play a home-and-home early last decade, but West Virginia ultimately backed out. All three prior meetings between the schools were in the Gator Bowl. FSU is 3-0 in those games. West Virginia is coming off its first losing season since 2013.
Week 2 – Sept. 12 vs. Samford (Tallahassee, Fla.)
Mike Norvell will become the third straight FSU head coach to make his non-conference home debut against Samford. The FCS Bulldogs were the opponent against whom both Jimbo Fisher and Willie Taggart collected their first wins. FSU was forced to rally in the last meeting two years ago.
Week 3 – Sept. 19 at Boise State (Boise, Ida.)
In a contest originally scheduled for Jacksonville last season, Boise State rallied from 18 points down to beat Florida State in Tallahassee. The Seminoles will make their first trip to the blue turf of Boise. Over the last 15 years, the Broncos have become no stranger to knocking off high-profile Power 5 teams. Besides FSU, Boise State has also defeated Georgia, Washington, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech and several more.
Week 5 – Oct. 3 at NC State (Raleigh, N.C.)
Florida State snapped a two-game skid to NC State last season with a 31-13 victory in Tallahassee, but Carter-Finley Stadium has been a historical thorn in FSU's side. Since 1998, NC State is 6-5 at home against the Seminoles. The Wolfpack endured their first losing season in 2019 since head coach Dave Doeren's debut campaign (2013).
Week 6 – Oct. 10 vs. Clemson (Tallahassee, Fla.)
The winner of the annual FSU-Clemson contest has won the ACC in every season since 2011. Unfortunately for the Seminoles, the Tigers have claimed the last five en route to the College Football Playoff each year. Clemson handed FSU its worst ACC and home loss ever in its last trip to Tallahassee two years ago, 59-10. The Tigers followed that up with a 45-14 beatdown at Memorial Stadium last season.
Week 7 – Oct. 17 vs. Wake Forest (Tallahassee, Fla.)
Wake Forest snapped a seven-game losing streak to Florida State last season with a 22-20 victory in Winston-Salem. Next up for the Demon Deacons? Figuring things out in Tallahassee. The Seminoles have won the last five home meetings against Wake Forest with none decided by fewer than 11 points. The average margin of victory in Doak Campbell Stadium during this stretch is 31 points.
Week 8 – Oct. 24 at Louisville (Louisville, Ky.)
Just two years removed from a 2-10 season and a winless ACC campaign, Louisville is regarded by many as the biggest challenger to Clemson in the ACC Atlantic. The Cardinals also happen to be just one of two teams that FSU has defeated in each of the last two seasons. The Seminoles let a 21-point lead slip away last season, but rallied in the fourth quarter for the second straight year in an eventual 35-24 victory.
Week 9 – Oct. 31 vs. Pittsburgh (Tallahassee, Fla.)
Florida State will spend its Halloween hosting Pittsburgh for the first time since Dan Marino was under center for the Panthers. The only prior meeting between the schools since Pittsburgh joined the ACC was on Labor Day in 2013. That contest featured the memorable debut of eventual Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston. Pat Narduzzi has won at least seven games in four of his five seasons as Pittsburgh head coach.
Week 10 – Nov. 7 at Miami (Miami Gardens, Fla.)
Miami loaded up with big-time transfers this offseason in quarterback D'Eriq King (Houston) and defensive end Quincy Roche (Temple). The Hurricanes now look to win a fourth straight contest over the Seminoles. The 27-10 victory last season in Tallahassee ultimately led to FSU head coach Willie Taggart's dismissal. Prior to last season's contest, the previous five meetings had been decided by no more than five points. FSU suffered its biggest blown lead ever in its last trip to South Florida two years ago after losing a 20-point lead in an eventual 28-27 loss.
Week 11 – Nov. 14 vs. Boston College (Tallahassee, Fla.)
Florida State has stunned Boston College with a long, late touchdown pass each of the last two meetings and is 9-1 in its last 10 games against the Eagles. This year's contest will feature two first-year head coaches in Norvell and Boston College's Jeff Hafley. Boston College has not won at Doak Campbell Stadium since 2008.
Week 12 – Nov. 19 at Syracuse (Syracuse, N.Y.)
Cam Akers ran wild for Florida State in last season's 35-17 win over Syracuse. The Orange, however, did win the last meeting in the Carrier Dome two years ago, defeating the Seminoles 30-7 to snap a 10-game losing streak in the series. After a 2-7 start last season, Syracuse won two of its final three games.
Week 13 – Nov. 28 vs. Florida (Tallahassee, Fla.)
In two years under Dan Mullen, Florida has gone 21-5 record with consecutive New Year’s Six bowl victories. The Gators have also posted consecutive victories over FSU by a combined 81-31 margin. The Seminoles had won the previous five in the series. Norvell looks to join Jimbo Fisher as the only FSU head coaches to beat Florida in their first seasons.
— Written by Mike Ferguson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson.
(Top photo courtesy of @FSUFootball)