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Florida St. preview

Florida State 2010 schedule and analysis

Of course 2010 is a season of change for the Florida State football program as it embarks on the post-Bobby Bowden era, with Jimbo Fisher finally running the show.

There’s no question Bowden goes down as one of the best coaches ever in the sport with a 389-129-4 record and 33 consecutive winning seasons thanks to FSU’s spanking of West Virginia in the Gator Bowl on New Year’s Day. But the Noles only finished 7-6 last year for the third time in four seasons, so this program needed a new direction.

Frankly, the most important new coach for 2010 might not be Fisher (he was basically running the show the past few years anyways) but new defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, who came over from Arizona. The Noles were a good offensive team last year but were historically bad on defense, ranking 108th in the nation and allowing more than 30 points five times. And the best player from that unit, Patrick Robinson, is now in the NFL. Six starters return on defense, and cornerback Greg Reid looks like a future star in the Deion Sanders/Terrell Buckley/Antonio Cromartie mold.

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The offense could be tremendous, led by potential Heisman candidate QB Christian Ponder. Last season Ponder combined to rush and pass for nearly 3,000 yards and added 16 total touchdowns. He averaged more than 300 yards passing per game and completed nearly 70% of his passes. He was by far the best QB in the ACC before he got hurt late in the year against Clemson and missed the final four games. Ponder will be protected by what should be one of the best lines in the nation and 10 starters overall are back on offense.

This should be a team that is playing in the ACC Championship Game, but the schedule is too tough to likely be in the national title hunt.

Here is FSU’s 2010 schedule:

Sept. 4 vs. Samford
Sept. 11 at Oklahoma
Sept. 18 vs. BYU
Sept. 25 vs. Wake Forest
Oct. 2 at Virginia
Oct. 9 at Miami
Oct. 16 vs. Boston College
Oct. 28 at NC State
Nov. 6 vs. North Carolina
Nov. 13 vs. Clemson
Nov. 20 at Maryland
Nov. 27 vs. Florida

The good news is that FSU gets seven home games and has back-to-back roadies just once, but there are seven bowl teams on this schedule – including two incredibly tough non-conference games against Oklahoma and Florida (and BYU’s never a pushover).

It’s kind of ironic that FSU opens with Samford now that Bowden is gone – he started his coaching career there. But then again Fisher was a QB there and also started his coaching career at the school. Obviously that’s a victory and a warm-up for the Sooners. It’s the first time Oklahoma has hosted Florida State since 1976 and it’s just the second on-campus meeting between the two schools who have met four times in bowl games. Good luck to the Noles in Norman, especially considering that OU has the longest current home winning streak in the nation at 30 straight.

The Seminoles host BYU for the first time, and the Cougars lost both Max Hall and Harvey Unga off last season’s club that was crushed 54-28 in Provo by the Seminoles. FSU should be on a three-game winning streak heading into the annual clash in Miami. Of course FSU and UM opened the 2009 season with a 38-34 Canes victory in one of the more entertaining games of the season. UM leads the series 31-23 and has won two of the past three but these games are always down to the wire.

FSU should then have little trouble until the Tar Heels visit. UNC dominated the Seminoles in the first half in Chapel Hill in 2009 but then watched Ponder rally the Noles to a 30-27 victory. FSU is 15-1-1 vs. North Carolina all-time, winning four straight meetings.

Clemson is rebuilding a bit and Maryland is just no good, so I could see the Noles on a five-game winning streak heading into the showdown with Florida. I assure you that FSU fans are thrilled Tim Tebow is gone. He beat FSU every season in Gainesville and the Gators have won six straight in the series. This year’s game should be closer, but UF is still the better team. So I see a 9-3 record for the Noles and a spot in the ACC title game.

  
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