Why not FSU?

No one expected Auburn to win the National Title last year, but the Tiger's ran through their tough schedule undefeated. While FSU is not quite as far off the radar, many feel it is a leap of faith to win it all this year. NoleDigest feels differently and explains why.

Five Reasons FSU can win it all.

Schedule, schedule, schedule

Florida State's schedule sets up just about perfect next year. Many feel that Oklahoma is the favorite to win it all(hey, they finally won a BCS game last year even if it was UCONN). The Sooner's come to Tallahassee and the Noles have plenty of reason for payback after a beatdown in Norman last year. OU does NOT play well on the road and the FSU defense is supposed to be up to the challenge. A win in this game will put FSU on the short list.

The Noles avoid two of the ACC's most dangerous teams in North Carolina and Virginia Tech(until a potential ACC title game).

Outside of the OU game, three other contests stand-out:

at Clemson: this game is the week after OU and it is tough to win in Death Valley.

vs. Miami: new coach in Coral Gables and FSU/Miami have played some of college football's best games.

at Florida: FSU has passed UF by in terms of talent and that was proven with a 31-7 drubbing last year in Doak. UF with new coach Will Muschamp will try to turn the tide back in their favor.

FSU is more talented than the three teams above and it is just a matter of execution. FSU has the mental edge(finally) over Miami/UF. Clemson is dangerous, it is only a 'huge' game if FSU wins the week before. It is often tough to be "up" back to back weeks. Clemson, however, has a lot more question marks than FSU entering this season.

Overall, the schedule is VERY manageable in the grand scheme of things.

Year Two in Mark Stoops defense

While the defense was much better last year, it was not good enough to win a national championship. That step is likely to happen this year as the defense returns some serious talent.

Seven of the top eight DL return, the top three CBs return, both starting Safeties are back, and several youngsters like Christian Jones are ready to leave their mark on college football.

Defense wins titles and I expect this unit to understand assignments better and to make more impact plays(turnovers).

Perhaps the best news is that this unit could return MOST of these defenders for 2012. A scary thought for opposing teams.

Coach Fisher has worked the kinks out

When people think of new head coaches they often think about the "mark" they will leave on the program. Their style, etc. What people don't think about are the little things that go unnoticed.

Things like when the team leaves to hit the road, where they stay, the schedule on the road, and how and when to "push" the team.

As with most things in life, experience matters. Sure this is only year two, but that is a lot better than year one. He has played on the road, he has played in big games, and he has seen what works and what doesn't.

Winning a NC is about perfection. To attain that, a series of "correct calls" will need to be made and Coach Fisher is in a better position today than a year ago to make those decisions.

Offense has some big play ability

No matter how good the team is......there will come times when some individual players will need to "make plays". Several players such as Chris Thompson, Rodney Smith, and Willie Haulstead showed flashes of that a year ago.

They are not the only ones as you never know when some youngsters such as Christian Green, Devonta Freeman, and Nick O'Leary are ready for "primetime".

Bottom line is that there are more players who can step up and make that play than there has been in Tallhassee since the late 90's. "Clutch" is the term we are looking for here and the hope is that there are guys who can do it. We think there are.

E.J. Manuel

When you lose a first round pick at Quarterback things are not supposed to get better in the short-term. But we believe that is exactly what will happen and Manuel is the guy to take this team to the promised land.

He has starting experience, he has consistently improved, and he is right on schedule for the plan that was set when he was recruited.

There is not a more critical player for FSU's success than Manuel and we feel he is the QB who will hoist the BCS trophy. Only time will tell if he is the one, but everything is in his favor right now. He does not have to look over his shoulder, he has a terrific understanding of the offense and what is expected of him, and he has won two bowl games already(which speaks to preparation).

Summary

It has been 11 full seasons since FSU's last National Championship, that is too long. During that time, FSU fans have had to deal with many setbacks. For a lot of those years there was no hope at a title, but things have changed drastically over the last year and this team seems poised to make some noise on a national level.

FSU has to beat OU, we don't think that a one-loss FSU team gets the chance to play in the BCS title game. There will come a time in a close game(likely at least twice) where plays will need to be made(we feel we have those guys on both sides of the ball). Manuel has to continue the upward trajectory as a passer. If those things happen, it will be our time and FSU will not go into hibernation again.


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