Going into the Orange Bowl, there was a lot speculation if Florida State could handle the nastiness and physical style of Michigan. Turns out the Seminoles were a team that wanted it more and won.
Florida State jumped off to impressive 20-6 lead and held on to win 33-32 as touchdown underdogs. With that victory and Clemson emerging as national champions, the ACC was 9-3 in bowl games and can at the very least make the claim as the best conference in college football.
Looking ahead, the sportsbooks are clearly high on Florida State, listed on the college football futures board right behind Alabama, a couple days after the Crimson Tide lost the title tilt. Here is how Seminoles expect to go into the season.
Florida State Offense Still in Good Hands
The departure of Delvin Cook leaves a large hole in coach Jimbo Fisher's offense, but this is Florida State we are talking about and to think another quality running back will not emerge is ludicrous. At this time, sophomore Jacques Patrick or incoming freshman Cam Akers are the leading candidates to split time, unless one emerges.
The key returnee is quarterback Deondre Francois, who often took a pounding, but never complained and got up and kept performing. With six other starters back and year of experience, the Noles offensive fortunes only seem brighter with Francois running the offense.
Seminoles Defense Could Be Special
There is no doubt defensive linemen DeMarcus Walker will be missed for his skill in generating negative plays, however, after rough opening part of the season, Fisher's youthful defense grew up and was a disruptive force the rest of the year.
Next season nine starters are expected back and with the speed and quickness, they should late in the campaign, they at the very least are presumed to be the best in the ACC. Also, safety Derwin James will be back in the fold after missing a good chunk of last season with a knee injury.
Florida State 2017 Schedule
What a way for the Noles to open the season, facing Alabama in Atlanta! This will be a benchmark game for both and with Clemson putting a chink in the Crimson Tide's armor, Florida State will like their chances.
The Seminoles will have two other very winnable nonconference games and will close the season at Florida, which is never simple.
The ACC slate will have home games versus Louisville, NC State, Syracuse and Miami-FL and taking trips to Boston College, Clemson, Wake Forest and Duke.
Way Too Early Prognosis
With Clemson losing a lot of talent, Florida State is expected to rise to the top of the ACC, with Miami and Virginia Tech not far behind. A loss against Alabama would not end the Seminoles chances of reaching the Final Four, just reduce their margin of error. Expect big things from Florida State in 2017!