Best-Case & Worst-Case Scenarios for FSU Football in 2018

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The transition year that is 2018 is undoubtedly the least predictable season Florida State has seen in quite some time, maybe even ever. For the last 42 years, the Seminoles have been fortunate enough to have more stability in the coaching department than arguably any other program in major college football. Even bringing on Jimbo Fisher as head coach in 2010 was an internal hire, as he was named coach-in-waiting under Bobby Bowden in the years leading up as offensive coordinator. With a completely overhauled coaching staff, a brand new offensive scheme, and a conference that is stronger than ever, for the first time in the modern era, most people outside of the program don’t really know what to expect out of Florida State football. As a student, a rabid fan, and a football junkie, here are my best and worst-case scenarios for FSU this fall.

Best-Case Scenario:

• (9-3)

• 2nd in the ACC Atlantic

• Orange Bowl Berth

Obviously the fan in me wants to say the best-case scenario is a 77-0 national championship game victory over Texas A&M, during which Jalen Ramsey stands on the sideline giving sassy looks to the Aggieland faithful the whole game, but unfortunately we can’t spend our time in imagination land thinking we’re the best team in the country this year. This isn’t UCF, this is Florida State. The reality is, this is the absolute BEST possible overachieving outcome. Most experts will tell you that FSU has the toughest schedule in the country this year. The schedule as a whole for the regular season is an absolute murderers row gauntlet with Miami, Clemson, Notre Dame, and Florida to go along with our typical conference foes like NC State and Louisville.

Barring an epic collapse by Clemson that mirrors the one we had last year, that program in South Carolina is once again poised to win the ACC and set up round four of their annual showdown with Alabama in the playoffs. After that, take your pick. Realistically, taking two of the other three aforementioned games is a win in my book. Another aspect of this truly being the best-case scenario is that it could mean we would be undefeated through the first eight games of the season when we meet Clemson, and therefore once again would be nationally relevant. Despite what ESPN wants you to think, it’s not totally unreasonable to conceive that we make it to week nine unblemished.

Syracuse, Wake Forest, Samford, and Northern Illinois are pretty much already penciled in as wins. Boston College is coming into Doak Campbell after embarrassing us on national TV last year and it’s safe to say the `Noles are out for revenge. NC State’s best player in a decade now plays for the Denver Broncos, and finally, Lamar Jackson is someone else’s headache instead of ours (Have fun dealing with that guy, AFC North).  The interesting one here is Virginia Tech. There’s nothing like a Labor Day evening, 8 p.m. nationally televised, prime time game to welcome Willie Taggart and company to the big show. I see this game as a huge opportunity to get a statement win on the main stage against a team that is being perceived nationwide as being better than they really are.

Particularly, their terrific defense from 2017 was ravaged by the NFL draft. Key losses left them remaining thin on the defensive line. They’re going to struggle to replace the do-it-all Edmunds brothers who were the heart and soul of both their linebacking corps and their secondary. They also lost the talented cornerback tandem of Brandon Facyson and Greg Stroman. If Taggart’s offense is clicking like it should be, Virginia Tech is going to have a heck of a time trying to match up with the experience and talent that we have in the first game of the season. Look for FSU to score fast and score often in that game. All things considered, 9-3 would be a success for Coach Taggart in his first year at the helm. Everyone wanted to rip us to shreds after the atrocity that was 2017, but I’m here to tell you that the sky is not falling. We’re still absolutely loaded with talent.

Worst-Case Scenario:

• (6-6)

• 5th in the ACC Atlantic

• Champions of the Blockbuster Video Irrelevance Bowl

I want you to keep in mind that I, personally, don’t believe this will be the case. If I was a gambling man I would put my money on us finishing somewhere between the best case I just described, and the worst case I’m about to. In this situation, we show up flat in the opener and let a less-than-stellar Hokie team escape Tallahassee with a win. It also means that, most likely due to another catastrophic injury at a key position, FSU lays a goose egg in the previously described murderers row of rivalry games on the slate. Finally, it would mean that one of the inferior opponents we face pulls off an upset. My guess would be that we fall to the perennial thorn in our side known as NC State University. After all, we are playing at Carter-Finley Stadium, which has a reputation as a place where good Seminole seasons go to die. (I’m looking at you, EJ Manuel.) A worst-case scenario 2018 would probably look a lot like 2017. Losing games on the last play, miscues and confusion costing us golden scoring opportunities, and an army of five-star talents somehow finding new and creative ways to display stunning ineptitude against programs that haven’t had anyone drafted since WWII.

There is a silver lining in the situation I just described. A disappointing season this year wouldn’t be the product of a dishonest and disinterested coaching staff. It wouldn’t end in our name being dragged through the mud like it did last year. It certainly wouldn’t be punctuated by Willie Taggart leaving on a private jet to be massively overpaid by oil tycoons who haven’t won anything since F.D.R. was in office. A disappointing season in 2018 would be nothing more than growing pains. Florida State football is once again an embarrassment of riches with NFL talent. We have a new attitude, a new playbook, and new people running the show. If, for whatever reason, we once again finish near the basement of the division and end up in some nonsense bowl game sponsored by Joanne’s Fabrics or Pet Supermarket, don’t be discouraged. The FSU family is all in on coach Taggart and coach Taggart is all in on the FSU family. Make no mistake. The future is bright. We’re in good hands.

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