The Florida State Seminoles need six wins to become bowl-eligible. At 4-3 and five games remaining, they will need to upset a team that is currently ranked in the Top 25. Of their five remaining games, four of the teams they face are ranked. Two of these teams are in the top-three, and in total, three of them in the top-10. They must beat at least one of these teams as long as they beat Boston College on Nov. 17.
Of these four opponents, which one are they most likely to beat?
The Remaining Schedule
Oct. 27: vs. Clemson (#2)
Nov. 3: @ NC State (#21)
Nov. 10: @ Notre Dame (#3)
Nov. 17: vs. Boston College
Nov. 24: vs. Florida (#9)
The Seminoles have been to a bowl game for 36 consecutive seasons. If they want to make it 37, one of these games will have to be an upset. It is possible that NC State and Florida could be unranked by the time they face Florida State, but as of right now, they are top teams. Let's cover the list.
Oct. 27: vs. #2 Clemson
Beating Clemson is extremely difficult, but when it is a team struggling to reach six wins, that's a tall order. It's not, however, impossible: Syracuse, who only won four games last season, beat the Tigers.
Clemson has won this game the last three seasons and the 'Noles won it three consecutive times before that. Since that winning-streak, Florida State has trended downward as the Tigers have gone upward and the biggest problem is that the Seminoles' biggest weakness is something Clemson thrives at taking advantage of.
Florida State's offensive line has been its central struggle this season, and the Tigers have a great defensive line. This alone makes the game seem pretty difficult to win. Anything can happen in college football, but this isn't the one I see the 'Noles stealing.
Nov. 3: @ #21 NC State
This is a game Florida State should circle. North Carolina State is 5-1 with their only loss to Clemson, but they also didn't play their toughest non-conference game due to weather. They have solid wins against Virginia and Boston College, but those are their best wins. The biggest issue with facing the Wolfpack is Ryan Finley. This is an highly experience quarterback who doesn't turn the ball over very often. In 37 games, he has thrown 1,198 pass attempts and thrown only 24 interceptions. The Seminoles have not had much success in pass coverage this season.
Florida State is currently ranked 112th out of 129 teams in the country in passing yards allowed per game. They are giving up 271.3 yards per game this season, a stat ballooned by the 475 passing yards given up to Samford. But if Samford can reach nearly 500 yards while throwing four interceptions, Finley could do more damage if he is able to take care of the ball as well.
That said, NC State doesn't have a much better passing defense. They are just a few spots ahead of the Seminoles at 104th. If the offensive line can just protect Deondre Francois a little bit, he could pick the defense apart and keep them in the game.
This is probably the least talented team of the four ranked right now. I don't know if its the most winnable game (I'll get to that), but the Wolfpack lost a lot of offensive talent from last season and has yet to prove they are a a top team in the ACC this season with no groundbreaking wins.
Nov. 10: @ #3 Notre Dame
The Fighting Irish are undefeated, but that isn't the real story of this team. Since making the switch at quarterback to Ian Book, the offense improved greatly. During the first three games with Brandon Wimbush taking snaps, Notre Dame's offense averaged 23.3 points and 365 yards per game. In the next four games with Book behind center, they've averaged 39.5 points and 474 yards per game.
The Irish don't have much competition in their regular schedule until they face Florida State, so they will more-than-likely be undefeated, or at least still ranked. This will be a cold game, November in South Bend, which may be tough for the Seminoles. A comparison of where these teams are is found in how each played against Virginia Tech.
Florida State is at a small disadvantage since they opened the season with a new coach against the Hokies and Notre Dame had figured out their offense before playing them, but either way, the Irish beat down Va Tech, 45-23 while the 'Noles struggled in a 24-3 season-opening loss. No matter what, this game seems similar to the Clemson game. There is just too much against Florida State for them to pull out a huge upset. It could absolutely happen with the talent on the roster, but they have not shown near enough as a team to think they could realistically pull it off.
Nov. 24: vs. #9 Florida
If I had to pick any game that the 'Noles would win out of these four, it would be this one. Logically, Florida is the better team with wins against LSU and Mississippi State, but it is a rivalry game -- and it is a rivalry game they have won five times in a row.
Like the Miami game, everyone says the Seminoles should lose, but with such a hated in-state rival, nothing makes sense. The 'Noles will need a win to become bowl-eligible in this game and so they should come out swinging. Florida's offense is dependent on the run and short passing game. Florida State should be able to key on those things and keep them under wraps.
Florida does have some good pass rushers, but they also have struggled to stop the run-game. They are giving up 163 yards per game on the ground, so if they can force the Gators to put more men in the box, the passing game can definitely open up.
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