Florida State's defense will be good enough this year that the Noles have a chance to go undefeated, according to ESPN Insider Travis Haney. Florida State and Clemson were both included on a list of 20 teams that can win it all, according to Brian Fremeau's five-year program metric and ESPN Stats & Information. At the end of each article, Fremeau gives his predictions for each team in 2012.
Here's an excerpt from Haney on the Noles:
Remember those vintage Florida State teams of the 1990s? Yeah, they had offensive firepower for days, but they also featured punishing defenses -- and particularly the front sevens, with the likes of Derrick Brooks and Corey Simon.
The current defense, run by Mark Stoops, could approach that level. Eight starters return from a group that gave up 275 total yards a game -- 30 per game better than the Virginia Cavaliers, who were second in the ACC. The jaw-dropper within that figure is the 2.3 yards per carry the Seminoles allowed. "That's ridiculous," a rival ACC coach said.
Clemson gets Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech at home, and its only imposing road test is at Florida State. But the rest of the conference schedule is extremely manageable. ...
There's nothing about the schedule itself that suggests a repeat trip to the league title game is out of the question.
My take: Last season, I said repeatedly that folks were jumping gun when they called Florida State a national title contender. I picked the Noles to lose to Oklahoma, 21-17, and predicted 2012 would be Florida State's year. I'm sticking with it. Florida State should be better this year. It returns 18 starters -- more than any other team in the ACC. And the talent and depth on defense is something to brag about. Do I really think Florida State will go undefeated and win the national title this year? No. But I don't think it's as farfetched as it has been in recent years. It's definitely possible. As for Clemson, let's wait until 2013 to have that conversation.