Florida State gives the emerging ACC a national title contender for 2017.

It wasn’t too long ago that it was hard to appreciate any college football conference not named the SEC, since most major media outlets treated the SEC as royalty. Hey they did dominate college football for the better part of a decade.

The ACC took over last season, specifically the Atlantic Division. The numbers and results don’t lie. Clemson won the National Championship, Florida State beat Michigan in a thrilling Orange Bowl to finish the season ranked no. 8, and Louisville finished the season ranked no. 21 and had Heisman winner Lamar Jackson. Not to mention, Virginia Tech and Miami also finished ranked in the top-20. Georgia Tech was the de-facto SEC East champion going 3-0 against that division. The conference went 9-3 during bowl season.

Navigating your way through that Conference was a daunting task last season, and that’s unlikely to change this year. It’s very possible the ACC may be represented again in the National Championship. This time it very well could be Florida State’s turn.
Vegas has also recognized this, as the Seminoles are among the favorites for the National Championship, and have their win total set at 9.5. Checking out some odds making recommended sites led to a bit of a surprise as one site has their win total set at 10.5 (that’s 11 wins or more on the over) just below the Alabama Crimson Tide. It definitely looks like Florida State will be a ten-win team this season.

First off, Jimbo Fisher has always been great at developing quarterbacks. Deondre Francois may not have been spectacular last season, but he was a red shirt freshman and he was tough as nails. Now without the school’s all-time leading rusher, Dalvin Cook, around, Francois will take on more responsibility, and I expect him to shine.

The offense isn’t the reason many are hyping Florida State to be the no. 3 team in the nation, though. It’s their defense that’s littered with first-round NFL talent that has everyone excited for this team. Derwin James, who missed all but two games in 2016, will anchor a strong secondary that also features another highly touted prospect, Tarvarus McFadden.

James’ flair for the big hit and ability in coverage have scouts comparing him to a faster, more athletic version of Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor. McFadden struggled early in 2016, but has grown into a shutdown corner with phenomenal ball skills. It’s going to be difficult to throw against the Seminoles.
Add in their dominant defensive front, led by Derrick Nnadi, and this defense will challenge the Crimson Tide and the Clemson Tigers for the right to be called the nation’s top defensive unit.

Looking at the rest of the ACC’s Atlantic Division, Clemson loses a bevy of stars in Deshaun Watson, Mike Williams, Wayne Gallman, and Artavis Scott. The Tigers may not fall off the face of the earth, but a step back is likely until their QB questions are answered. Louisville may return Lamar Jackson, but the offensive line has got to take a major step forward. All the more reason Florida State goes over their 9.5 win total.
We’ll find out what Florida State is all about in their opening game with Alabama.

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