Nonconference opponents (with 2011 records)
Murray State (7-4)
Savannah State (1-10)
At South Florida (5-7)
ACC home games
ACC road games
At NC State
At Virginia Tech
Gut-check time: Nov. 8 at Virginia Tech. If Florida State is truly going to live up to the preseason hype this year and play for more than an ACC title, it must be able to win in Blacksburg on a Thursday night. These teams last met in the 2010 ACC championship game in Charlotte, N.C., and the Hokies won, 44-33. Virginia Tech has owned the league since it joined the ACC, and FSU has faded into the background, its last league title coming in 2005. In order for that to change, this is a must-win game for the Noles.
Trap game: Sept. 15 vs. Wake Forest. It’s a home game. It’s the smallest school in the BCS. But the Deacs know how to beat Florida State. Wake Forest won, 35-30, last year, and has now won four of the past six in the series. FSU can’t afford to look past the Deacs to the following week’s matchup against Clemson.
Snoozer: The first two weeks. Wake me up when the Deacs get to town.
Defining stretch: Sept. 15-Oct. 6 (vs. Wake Forest, vs. Clemson, at South Florida, at NC State). This is the most important stretch because FSU will face it’s three most difficult Atlantic Division opponents, and it has to play NC State on the road. If the Noles can avoid another upset by the Deacs and beat Clemson and NC State, it should win the division.
Final analysis: This is a difficult schedule, even for a preseason top 10 team. The odds of Florida State making it through its ACC road slate unscathed seem slim. Still, it will be a definite advantage to play Clemson at home and the Noles should be 3-0 heading into that game. Florida State should be a much better team than Miami this year, but playing their rival on the road will bring out the best in the Canes, and anything can happen. If Florida State can stay healthy, though, (unlike last year), they could be undefeated heading into Blacksburg. Unlike the Hokies, Florida State will have a bye week to prepare for that Thursday night game. On paper, Florida State should be favored against every team it will line up against this year. In the ever-unpredictable ACC, though, don’t be surprised if Wake Forest or NC State ruins the Noles’ plans this year.