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2011 schedule analysis: Florida State

FLORIDA STATE

Nonconference opponents and 2010 records:

  • Louisiana-Monroe (5-7)

  • Charleston Southern (3-8)

  • Oklahoma (12-2)

  • at Florida (8-5)

Cross-divisional schedule:

  • At Duke

  • Miami

  • Virginia

Gut-check game: Sept. 17 vs. Oklahoma. They’re either a national title contender or they’re not. We’ll find out in Week 3 just how good the Seminoles are in Year 2 under coach Jimbo Fisher. There was a lot of hype surrounding this game a year ago, and Florida State fell flat in a convincing 47-17 loss to the Sooners. They’ve got two warm-up games and home-field advantage this year, but it will take a better effort on both sides of the ball to pull the upset against what should be one of the top teams in the country.

Trap game: Nov. 12 vs. Miami. Yes, consider this a trap game. Florida State made a meal of Miami last year on the Canes’ home turf, and in the big picture, Jimbo Fisher is way ahead of Al Golden. This is a game the Seminoles should win, especially at home. But Golden’s greatest asset might be his ability to motivate.

Snoozer: The first two weeks. Let’s cut to the chase, already.

Good luck with that: The road trip to Clemson a week after playing Oklahoma. While the national spotlight will be on the Oklahoma game, the game that should help determine the Atlantic Division winner will be on the line the following week. Florida State will have to face Clemson in Death Valley.

Upset watch: Nov. 3 at Boston College. It’s a Thursday night game in Chestnut Hill, which is a looong way from Tallahassee. BC is a strong team at home, and one that shouldn’t be overlooked in the Atlantic Division race. This will be FSU’s third road trip in five weeks. They can’t afford to be tired, or to look ahead to the following week against rival Miami.

Analysis: No, this schedule isn’t easy, but the last two weeks of September (vs. Oklahoma and Clemson) should be a good indicator of which direction the Seminoles are headed. Regardless of what happens against Oklahoma, though, the road trip to Clemson will be the key game. Even if FSU manages a win over the Sooners, it might not amount to much if it can’t beat the Tigers on the road the following week.

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