For the ACC, like the SEC, the script for the 2017 Season is relatively the same. The top teams in each division will remain the same but in slightly different order. The ACC could potentially have two playoff contenders again but the likelihood of both getting in is slim to none. Florida State has dominated the offseason headlines despite the reigning National Champions being in the same conference and division. The Seminoles were thrashed last season by eventual Heisman Winner, Lamar Jackson and it took everything Clemson had, including a three score fourth quarter, to defeat Florida State in October.
FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES
The Seminoles will be primed to reclaim ACC glory in 2017, with Deondre Francois leading the way. The Redshirt Freshman threw for over 3,300 yards with 20 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. Protecting Francois during the 2017 season is paramount to their success. The Seminole’s offensive line gave up 34 sacks last year leaving the quarterback beaten and bruised. Filling the holes left by Junior Roderick Johnson and Kareem Ares on the left side of the offensive line won’t be easy but the experience at center and on the right side of the ball, will be valuable down the stretch for the Seminoles. The Seminoles lose Dalvin Cook but will replace him with a productive Jacques Patrick and newcomer Cam Akers. Nyqwan Murray will be a threat all over the field and the loss of Whitfield won’t be felt as much as most people believe. The Seminole offense should be explosive at times but consistent throughout. The balance of power running, outside speed and downfield passing will keep defenses on their heels all season long.
On the defensive side, the ACC favorites will lose only Demarcus Walker and Marquez White. The defense picked itself up towards the end of the season and regained its composure after an early season meltdown. The 2016 Defense gave up only 3.64 yards per carry last season and only 128 yards rushing per game, good for 12th among Power 5 teams. With a 4-3 Defensive scheme and both tackles returning, FSU will be tough to run against up the middle. Florida State intercepted 15 passes and only two of those belonged to White who graduated this year. Tavares McFadden will lead the way for the Seminoles’ backfield and FSU will pickoff 20 or more passes in 2017. This defense, at least on paper, should be primed for near historic numbers. Three of the top 50 prospects according to ESPN have already enrolled in school, making the Florida State Seminoles a very dangerous team in 2017.
The looming contest against Alabama gives the Seminoles a chance to make history. The Crimson Tide have never lost back to back games against ACC Opponents and despite the returning talent for Florida State, Alabama won’t let that happen. The rest of the schedule plays out nicely for FSU which does not have back-to-back games against road opponents (bye week between WF & Duke). FSU will play 5 teams in the Athlon Sports Very Early College Football Rankings and in each game after Alabama, the Seminoles will be favored. Look for the Seminoles to finish the year with a record of 12-1 heading into the playoffs and a potential rematch with the Tide for the National Championship.
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