Florida State might have one of the most talented offenses in the nation this year, and that's one reason the Seminoles are among the favorites on the college football futures odds.
If experience counts for anything, the Florida State Seminoles should be in excellent shape for the 2016 college football season. Just don't expect head coach Jimbo Fisher and his staff to sit back and wait for easy wins to pile up in advance of an invite to the College Football Playoff.
Experience is indeed one of the factors going into the Seminoles (+900 to Win National Championship at Bet Online) being among the favorites to win the National Championship, what would be their fourth with all three of the previous titles coming during the BCS era. Florida State is going off currently at 16/1 to be the last team standing, putting Fisher's troops seventh on the NCAA Football Odds, and in the second tier of the futures betting.
That wagering also includes a 9½ win total on the board, the 'under' carrying a little extra juice, putting FSU just behind the Alabama Crimson Tide who are the top favorites.
The experience factor begins with 17 starters returning from a squad that went 10-3 last season, the only losses taking place on the road in ACC play at Georgia Tech and Clemson before bowing to Houston in the Peach Bowl. All 11 of the starters in that loss to the Cougars are back, plus six on the defensive side where the Seminoles ranked 19th in the country allowing just under 336 yards per game.
Maguire & Cook Both Returning From Injuries
One of those offensive starters was senior quarterback Sean Maguire who took over midseason for Everett Golson. Despite being a senior and having the job to close 2015, Maguire is not guaranteed to be under center when Florida State opens the campaign with a tough Labor Day matchup against Ole Miss in Orlando. Maguire did not participate in spring drills following offseason ankle surgery, and while he was out, redshirt freshman Deondre Francois rose to prominence on the depth chart. The two will soon be battling it out during summer workouts.
Another player who missed a chunk of spring with an injury is tailback, Dalvin Cook. The junior enters 2016 as a legit Heisman Trophy candidate in the wake of rushing for nearly 1,700 yards and 19 touchdowns last year.
The offensive line is massive and returning intact, setting up solid protection and run blocking for whoever emerges with the QB slot. The receiving corps is also loaded with wideouts Travis Rudolph and Jesus 'Bobo' Wilson plus tight end Ryan Izzo.
Fisher's biggest hole to fill on the defensive side is cornerback Jalen Ramsey who went No. 5 overall in the NFL Draft and will be plying his professional trade just down the road for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Defensive end DeMarcus Walker is back to lead a strong front seven, and the Seminoles brought in two of the country's top DB recruits in top-rated CB Levonta Taylor and Carlos Becker.
'Noles Get Rivals Clemson & Florida at Home
That opener against Ole Miss kicks off a tough first half of the schedule for the Seminoles. It will be just the second time FSU and the Rebels collided on a gridiron, the first coming 55 years ago in Oxford and a game that will have a heavy impact on the eventual CFP rankings.
Five days after that one, the 'Noles are home against Charleston Southern, and they follow that up with a pair of ACC road games against Louisville and South Florida. Florida State will get a week off before its conference home opener against North Carolina than travel to Miami for a key clash against the rival Hurricanes.
It doesn't necessarily get easy after that, but at least the Seminoles will have rivals Clemson and Florida in Tallahassee. They have beaten the Tigers the last four times they've played at Doak Campbell Stadium and have a 3-game win streak going against the Gators.
The two games vs. Ole Miss and Clemson will obviously both have national implications, the latter likely determining the eventual ACC champ. But with so many returning starters, it's difficult not to like the Seminoles 'over' 9½ wins for my free college football pick.