The 2020 college football season was the least predictable for a number of reasons. Hopefully, the 2021 campaign signifies a return to normal for fans across the country.
For those in Tallahassee, fans want to go back to the old normal — the pre-2018 one. Florida State enters its second season under head coach Mike Norvell coming off three consecutive losing campaigns. That followed 41 straight winning seasons.
FSU is coming off a 3-6 pandemic-altered 2020 season. The Seminoles played eight ACC games, going just 2-6. The 2020 season marked the first time since 1957 that FSU and archrival Florida did not meet.
After canceling last spring's practice sessions prematurely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, FSU played the first Garnet and Gold game of the Norvell era this past Saturday. Time will tell whether it sticks, but for now, the schedule is back to normal.
Bye: Week 7
Week 1 – Sept. 5 vs. Notre Dame (Tallahassee, Fla.)
The first of two College Football Playoff participants to take on the Seminoles this season, Notre Dame looks to start 2021 off on the right foot after dropping its final two games last season. Notre Dame will have some new faces in the lineup, including at quarterback, when it arrives at Doak Campbell Stadium on Labor Day weekend. The Fighting Irish have won two straight over the Seminoles, including a 42-26 victory in South Bend last season. The teams have not met in Tallahassee since 2014.
Week 2 – Sept. 11 vs. Jacksonville State (Tallahassee, Fla.)
Jacksonville State served as Florida State's first victory in 2020 and the Seminoles hope to make it their second in 2021. The Gamecocks from the FCS ranks, however, have not been an easy foe for FSU historically. In each of its last two trips to Doak Campbell Stadium, Jacksonville State held a second-half lead.
Week 3 – Sept. 18 at Wake Forest (Winston-Salem, N.C.)
FSU will open ACC play in Winston-Salem against a Wake Forest team that finished 4-5 last season. The teams were set to meet last season before a late cancelation. The Demon Deacons held on for a 22-20 victory two years at home. Prior to that, FSU had won seven straight in the series. The Seminoles haven't won their ACC opener since 2015.
Week 4 – Sept. 25 vs. Louisville (Tallahassee, Fla.)
Florida State and Louisville had similar seasons in 2020, although the Cardinals blasted FSU on the field, 48-16. Prior to last season, FSU had won two straight in the series. In the last meeting in Tallahassee, the Cardinals rallied from 21 points down to take the lead, but a pair of late touchdowns lifted the Seminoles to a 35-24 victory. After a solid 2019 campaign for Louisville, this will be a pivotal year for head coach Scott Satterfield.
Week 5 – Oct. 2 vs. Syracuse (Tallahassee, Fla.)
No ACC school won fewer games in 2020 than Syracuse. The Orange are coming off a 1-10 campaign and will arrive in Tallahassee looking for its first-ever win in Doak Campbell Stadium (0-6). The Seminoles are 11-2 all-time against the Orange. Cam Akers scored four touchdowns two years ago in a 35-17 drubbing of Syracuse. Head coach Dino Babers enters the 2021 campaign on the hot seat.
Week 6 – Oct. 9 at North Carolina (Chapel Hill, N.C.)
In the most impressive win of the 2020 season for Florida State, the Seminoles stunned then-No. 5 North Carolina at Doak Campbell Stadium, 31-28. The Tar Heels would go on to appear in their first New Year's Six bowl game and will be one of the biggest threats to Clemson in the ACC. Quarterback Sam Howell, once an FSU commitment, has emerged as one of the nation's top signal-callers. North Carolina head coach Mack Brown, however, has never defeated his alma mater.
Week 8 – Oct. 23 vs. UMass (Tallahassee, Fla.)
Homecoming in Tallahassee will also feature a familiar face. UMass head coach Walt Bell served as offensive coordinator at Florida State under Willie Taggart in 2018. In two years as head coach of the Minutemen, Bell is just 1-15. His lone victory came in 2019 against an Akron team that finished 0-12. This will be the first-ever meeting between the schools.
Week 9 – Oct. 30 at Clemson (Clemson, S.C.)
Clemson and Florida State did not play in 2020 after the Tigers made their way to Tallahassee, only to find out about a positive COVID-19 test. Prior to that, the winner of the annual contest had gone on to claim the ACC title in each season since 2011. The problem for FSU is that Clemson has won six straight in the series. The last two have been decided by a 104-24 margin. Clemson has won each of the last six ACC titles and reached the College Football Playoff each year.
Week 10 – Nov. 6 vs. NC State (Tallahassee, Fla.)
After winning just one ACC game in 2019, NC State was one of the conference's pleasant surprises in 2020. Despite losing quarterback Devin Leary early in the season, NC State finished 8-4, including a program-record seven ACC wins. The Wolfpack handled FSU in Raleigh, 38-22. They'll look to win four of five against the Seminoles. Since FSU entered the ACC, only Clemson has defeated the Seminoles more often than NC State.
Week 11 – Nov. 13 vs. Miami (Tallahassee, Fla.)
Rival Miami will come to Tallahassee for FSU's Senior Day. The Seminoles have lost four straight contests to the Hurricanes after winning the previous seven. Quarterback D'Eriq King returns from injury after a solid 8-3 season in 2020. The Hurricanes handed FSU its worst loss of the season in 2020, beating the Seminoles 52-10. FSU has won its final home game in each of the last two seasons.
Week 12 – Nov. 20 vs. Boston College (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
The ACC finale for the Seminoles will feature a pair of second-year head coaches squaring off for the first time. Jeff Hafley led Boston College to a respectable 6-5 record in his first season as head coach. He and Norvell however, did not square off. FSU defeated Boston College in its ACC finale two years ago, 38-31. FSU has won two straight in the series and nine of the last 10.
Week 13 – Nov. 27 at Florida (Gainesville, Fla.)
After not meeting for the first time in more than six decades last season, Florida will get FSU in Gainesville for the second straight meeting. After FSU won five straight games in the series from 2013 to 2017, Florida has taken the last two in convincing fashion. The Gators have outscored the Seminoles 81-31 over the last two matchups. Although it has never appeared in the College Football Playoff, Florida has made a New Year's Six bowl in each of its first three seasons under Dan Mullen.
— Written by Mike Ferguson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson.