2019 Florida State Seminoles Football Predictions and Odds to Win National Championship
Let's talk about the last few years for Florida State football for a second. From 2012 to 2016 the team won 59 games in five years and a national title. They were a machine. Feared. Then Jimbo Fisher had his mid-life crisis and checked out of what became his final season in Tallahassee, and they went 7-6. And last year they were just 5-7 under Willie Taggart and missed a bowl game for the first time in 37 years. It's hard to think of too many teams that have fallen from mega-power to laughing stick so quickly - at least not among top-level contenders with long track records of success. Yet here we are. And the shocking thing is that it is far from certain that things will turn around this year in a big way. Getting back to the standards of Fisher's last season feels like a reasonable goal. And that's kind of pathetic.
2018 in a Nutshell
Things started out horribly, as Taggart was steamrolled at home by Virginia Tech in his first game. A Virginia Tech team that went on to have a disaster of a season themselves, mind you. After beating Samford by only 10, they were again beaten up at Syracuse. They beat Northern Illinois and won at Louisville to move to 3-2. That would prove to be the high-water mark on the season. They lost narrowly at Miami, beat Wake Forest, then got clobbered by Clemson. Destroyed, really - Clemson won by seven touchdowns. Lopsided losses at NC State and Notre Dame followed. They beat Boston College by a single point, then closed out the season by getting humbled by Florida. It's not that they lost the majority of their games that is striking, but that so few were particularly close.
Key Additions and Departures
The first change of note is at offensive coordinator - significant because the team essentially had no offense last year, finishing ranked 117th in scoring. Taggart hired Walt Bell, who he had never worked with, to run the offense last year. It couldn't have gone worse. Bell is now head coach at UMass, and replacing him is Kendall Briles, who is running his fourth offense in four years. The good news is that he can't do any worse than Bell did.
Two players were drafted last year - both on defense. Outstanding DE Brian Burns, who was drafted as a linebacker, went 16th overall to Carolina despite playing on a defensive unit that as a whole was almost as inept as the offense - they ranked 98th in points allowed. And DT Demarcus Christmas went in the sixth round.
Also gone is Deondre Francois, the starting QB who had massive amounts of baggage and was kicked off the team after domestic violence charges were laid. Second-leading rusher Jacques Patrick, and top receiver Nyqwan Murray, are also gone. Neither guy was so explosive as to be irreplaceable, though. Grad transfer Alex Hornibrook joined the team from Wisconsin to battle with James Blackman for the starting QB job. The offensive line is getting a much-needed overhaul. Look for Northern Illinois grad transfer Ryan Roberts to step in at left tackle.
The recruiting class ranked 19th nationally in the consensus and second in the ACC. It wasn't too long ago that this was a perennial Top 5 recruiting school.
Biggest Area of Concern
Where to begin? Really, the biggest concern is everything to do with playing football. To put a finer point on it, it all comes down to commitment for this team. Last year it looked like the coaching staff was on their own island, and the players were doing their own thing on the mainland. It was anarchy. Can the coaching changes fix that? Did Taggart and his staff do a better job this offseason of selling their vision? They'd better hope so, or it could be another very long year.
Florida State Seminoles Schedule Analysis
Opening up against what should be a pretty good Boise State team in Jacksonville is not the ideal way to start the year, but if they can avoid losing it could give them a nice boost. They then host ULM before playing at a pretty solid Virginia team. They could be 1-2 easily if they aren't careful. They host Louisville and NC State before traveling to Clemson in a game that is all but certain to go very poorly. I'm old enough to remember when the Florida State-Clemson rivalry was among the best in football, and even when Florida State had the edge. They go to Wake Forest, then host a good Syracuse team, and a Miami squad that is tough to judge right now. They go to Boston College, then host Alabama State before heading to Gainesville to play their hated rivals, the Gators. The schedule could be worse, but if the team isn't significantly improved from last year, there are still a lot of losses awaiting them there.
2019-20 Florida State Seminoles Betting Odds and Trends
BetOnline has 27 teams listed with national title futures odds, and Florida State is not one of them. Just think about that for a minute. We live in a world where the Seminoles are not one of the 27 best teams in the country. That shouldn't be possible. Bovada is a little more bullish, listing them at +12500 to win it all - a truly horrible bet. They are tied with Syracuse and Virginia Tech at +2200 to win the ACC, though that's well behind Miami at +750, and in a different stratosphere entirely than Clemson at -375.
2019-20 Florida State Seminoles Predictions and College Football Picks
If forced to pick a number, I would take seven wins. But nothing between five and eight would be much of a surprise. This still isn't a good team, and I remain unconvinced that Taggart was the right hire, but they should be a little better than last year at least. I hope I don't need to actually say, though, that the futures odds could barely be less attractive if they tried.
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