Hopes are high for the start of the Willie Taggart era at Florida State, but for the Seminoles’ first-year head man, things won’t come easy.
Based on opponents’ 2017 winning percentage, the Seminoles will play the nation’s toughest schedule in 2018. The Labor Day opener against Virginia Tech will be a tough one for the Seminoles, but if they can get past the Hokies, they should have a chance to ease into a tough stretch in October and November.
Bye: Week 7
Week 1 – Sept. 3 vs. Virginia Tech (Tallahassee, Fla.)
The Willie Taggart era opens with what could be a top-25 matchup. FSU and Virginia Tech haven’t met since 2012 and not in Tallahassee since ‘08. While Taggart has never faced Virginia Tech, he was 0-3 against Hokies head coach Justin Fuente when he was at Memphis and Taggart was at South Florida.
Week 2 – Sept. 8 vs. Samford (Tallahassee, Fla.)
Taggart’s first Saturday afternoon contest comes against the same school that predecessor Jimbo Fisher’s came against and that’s FCS member Samford. Although, it’s on short rest, facing the legendary Bobby Bowden’s alma mater should allow FSU to work out any kinks before hitting the road for the first time.
Week 3 – Sept. 15 at Syracuse (Syracuse, N.Y.)
It took a missed field goal as time expired last season for FSU to escape against Syracuse in Tallahassee. A long trip to upstate New York won’t be easy for the Seminoles. The Carrier Dome was the venue where the Orange took down Clemson last season.
Week 4 – Sept. 22 vs. Northern Illinois (Tallahassee, Fla.)
Jordan Lynch isn’t around to provide the bulletin board material this time around, but FSU will need to be motivated when it takes on a good MAC team that won at Nebraska last season.
Week 5 – Sept. 29 at Louisville (Louisville, Ky.)
Few teams will be happier to see Lamar Jackson gone than Florida State. The Cardinals lit FSU up for 63 points during the last trip to the Bluegrass State. Louisville will likely take a step back on offense, but with Miami the following week, FSU can’t afford to get caught looking ahead.
Week 6 – Oct. 6 at Miami (Miami)
A last-second touchdown pass from Malik Rosier to Darrell Langham ended FSU’s seven-game winning streak over the rival Hurricanes last season. This may serve as the first real “statement game” of the Taggart era. Miami hasn’t topped the Seminoles at home since 2004.
Week 8 – Oct. 20 vs. Wake Forest (Tallahassee, Fla.)
A last-minute touchdown pass from James Blackman to Auden Tate saved the Seminoles in Winston-Salem last season, 26-19. Wake Forest loses a number of key players in John Wolford, Duke Ejiofor and Jessie Bates, but head coach Dave Clawson has the program moving in the right direction. FSU will be coming off a bye week to face a Demon Deacons team that hasn’t scored a touchdown in its last five trips to Tallahassee.
Week 9 – Oct. 27 vs. Clemson (Tallahassee, Fla.)
The winner of the annual FSU-Clemson game has gone on to win the ACC Atlantic Division in each season since 2009 and the ACC in every year since ‘11. The Tigers have recently overtaken FSU as the premier program in the ACC, but Taggart and company will have a huge opportunity to change that come late October.
Week 10 – Nov. 3 at NC State (Raleigh, N.C.)
Carter-Finley Stadium has traditionally been a tough place for Florida State to play and probably will be again. The Wolfpack are replacing a number of key contributors like Bradley Chubb and Jaylen Samuels, who helped lead an upset in Tallahassee last season. NC State still returns a lot from a very good offensive team.
Week 11 – Nov. 10 at Notre Dame (Notre Dame, Ind.)
A trip to South Bend in cold November should be a real challenge for FSU. The Seminoles stunned the Fighting Irish 37-0 in their last trip in 2003. FSU has won three straight in the series with the last two requiring fourth-quarter comebacks.
Week 12 – Nov. 17 vs. Boston College (Tallahassee, Fla.)
Revenge could be on Florida State’s mind after a 35-3 loss in Chestnut Hill this past season. FSU hasn’t lost to Boston College in Tallahassee since 2008. Stopping AJ Dillion will be the key for Florida State.
Week 13 – Nov. 24 vs. Florida (Tallahassee, Fla.)
Prior to last season, Florida State had never beat Florida in five straight seasons. The Seminoles will look to make it six as Willie Taggart and Dan Mullen each enter the rivalry as first-year head coaches.
(Top photo by Colin Abbey, courtesy of Seminoles.com)