The Seminoles returned to glory last season, winning their first national championship of the post-Bowden era. This year coach Jimbo Fisher has a chance to do what ol' Bobby never could; win back-to-back titles.
The 'Noles will begin the season as kings of the hill, ranked No. 1 in the coaches' poll, and with good reason, with a returning Heisman Sportsbook at quarterback and a wealth of supporting talent. But can FSU, and Jameis Winston, avoid the pitfalls that come with defending a national championship?
Florida State Odds to Win ACC: 4/11 at Sportsbook
Florida State Odds to Win College Football Championship: 11/2 at Sportsbook
Florida State Regular Season Win Total: 11.5 at Sportsbook
Florida State Betting Props: Jameis Winston to Win Heisman 4/1 at Sportsbook
Florida State rolled through the regular season last year, beating Pitt by 28 points, Maryland 63-0, Clemson by 37, Miami by 27, Florida by 30 and, in the ACC title game, Duke by 38. The going got a little tougher in the BCS championship game, but FSU rallied from a 21-3 deficit to beat Auburn 34-31 on a score with 10 seconds to go.
In the end the 'Noles won their 14 games last year by an average score of 52-12, along the way setting a new FBS record for points in a season with 723. That's how they managed to go 11-2-1 ATS on the season, even though they were favored in every game by an average of four touchdowns.
This year Florida State returns seven starters on offense, including Winston, leading receiver Rashad Greene and four along the offensive line, and six on defense, including five of the back seven.
The Seminoles kick off this season with a game against Oklahoma State in Dallas, then later play at Louisville (on a Thursday night) and at Miami. But they get Clemson, Notre Dame and Florida at home, and miss North Carolina and Virginia Tech, two of the favorites to win the ACC Coastal Division. At least, that is, until the conference championship game.
ACC Championship Odds at Sportsbook as of August 5
Florida State 4/11
North Carolina 10/1
Virginia Tech 12/1
Georgia Tech 25/1
North Carolina State 100/1
Boston College 200/1
Wake Forest 200/1
The Florida State Seminoles finally won the ACC championship again last year, for the first time since 2005.
Now, as it's been for the last several seasons, the goal in Tallahassee is to get back into regular contention for the national championship. However, after losing half their starters and having 11 players taken in NFL draft, will that happen this year?
Odds to Win ACC: +240 at Sportsbook
Regular Season Win Total: 10.5 at Sportsbook
Florida State began last year ranked in every top 10, and after a 5-0 start, which included a win over Clemson, reached No. 3. But the 'Noles then gave away a game at N.C. State, blowing a 16-3 fourth-quarter lead, allowing the winning score with 16 seconds to go. FSU then picked up where it left off with another five-game winning streak, but then got upset at home by in-state rival Florida. The Seminoles then won ugly over Georgia Tech in the ACC championship game, then outclassed Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl to finish at 12-2, their best mark since going 12-0 for coach Bowden in 1999. But the 'Noles were not exactly kind to their financial backers last year, going just 5-8 ATS, in part because they were favored by at least two touchdowns in every game but one. They also went 3-6 ATS in conference play and 0-5 ATS as road chalk.
This year Florida State returns just 11 starters, second-fewest in the league. Seven starters are back on offense, led by four of the big boys up front, but only four starters return on defense. FSU will have to replace quarterback EJ Manuel, last year's leading rusher Chris Thompson, the entire starting front four on defense, and two starting linebackers. Fortunately, with two straight top-five recruiting classes, there is talent to harvest. However, the 'Noles also lost a bunch of assistant coaches, including their defensive coordinator (Mark Stoops, to Kentucky), and turnover in that department can have an impact on the field. This year's schedule, though, is very do-able.
FSU has to play at Clemson and at Florida, but gets Miami at home and misses Virginia Tech, North Carolina, and Georgia Tech, three of the top four contenders in the Coastal Division. Florida State should be favored in every game expect possibly those two road bouts mentioned above.
ACC Championship Odds at Sportsbook as of July 30
Florida State +240
Virginia Tech +775
North Carolina +850
Georgia Tech +1050
NC State +7000
Boston College +8500
Wake Forest +15000