How do you know an organization is in a good place? When, like Florida State last year, they can clearly be in a rebuilding year and still win 10 games. Now, any number of wins has to have an asterisk beside it when a team plays in the ACC right now. They lost at Clemson, were stunned at Georgia Tech, and lost their bowl game badly to Houston, so it was far from a great season. But 10 wins is still 10 wins.
They should be in a much better place this year. They need to find a quarterback, and they lost the great Jalen Ramsey in the secondary, but they still should be better - potentially quite a bit better - than they were last season. It doesn't matter what they do in the ACC if they can't beat Clemson, but they will be better positioned to do that - and that could easily mean a ticket to the playoff.
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Key Additions and Departures
The Seminoles are lucky to largely return the same team they had last year. The loss of Ramsey is big, but this team has been recruiting so well in the secondary that the drop off shouldn't be significant. They do need two starting linebackers, but the two departing starters were more solid than spectacular, so they should be fine there as well. They were very lucky that defensive end DeMarcus Walker surprised many by choosing not to head to the NFL, so they have a very strong defensive line. The defense allowed just 17.5 points per game last year and is poised to be at least as good and quite possibly better.
Offensively, the offensive line is deep and experienced, the running game will be excellent, and the receivers are solid. It's the quarterback position that has questions, but there are plenty of potential answers - senior Sean Maguire is back, but he seems unlikely to start ahead of redshirt freshman Deondre Francois or true freshman Malik Henry.
Florida State Schedule Analysis
This is a manageable schedule, but there are certainly some challenges. The biggest one obviously is the annual epic showdown with Clemson. This time it takes place in Tallahassee in Week 8. That could very easily define the season for both teams, but the Seminoles need to get there unscathed first.
A neutral-site opener against Ole Miss certainly isn't going to be easy - the Seminoles defense will be tested early by an experienced and talented quarterback. A Week 3 trip to Louisville is very winnable but perhaps a challenge. Home games against North Carolina and Boston College could challenge any team that isn't fully focused, but Florida State will win those handily if they are on their game.
Closing the season against in-state rivals Florida could be a challenge on paper, but the Seminoles absolutely humiliated them in Gainesville last year and are much better this year, so that shouldn't be a loss. We'll know a whole lot about this team after their opener against Ole Miss. However, assuming they come through that well, they are at least an 11-win team and it's all about Clemson.
2016-17 Florida State Seminoles Betting Odds and Trends
BetOnline has Florida State at +1400 to win the National Championship, which places them behind six teams. At Bovada they are the second choice to win the ACC at +225 behind Clemson. They are also the second choice at +125 to win the Atlantic Division. The season win total is set at 10 regular season games, with the "over" favored at -125. The Seminoles were a solid team to bet on last year. They were nicely profitable at 8-5 ATS and went "under" in eight of 13.
2016-17 Florida State Predictions and College Football Picks
I like this team quite a bit. My issue, though, is that I like Clemson more. Quite a bit more. You can't make the playoff, in all likelihood if you don't win your division - never mind your conference - and they can't win their division without beating the Tigers.
A whole lot can change between now and then, but if I had to choose now I would bet on Clemson on the road in Tallahassee. I'm also quite concerned about that Ole Miss game. I believe in Florida State's QB options longer term, but in their first game matching up against Chad Kelly -- and that impressive stable of receivers he has to work with -- is a lot to ask. The regular-season win total of 10 seems like a pretty good number in my eyes, and though I wouldn't go under it, I would really struggle to go over it. I wouldn't rule anything out for this team, and a playoff berth is very much in play, but I lean towards seeing them on the outside looking in.
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