FSU 2006 Schedule Preview

With the FSU football team's '06 opener just over two and a half month's away, Renegade Report examines a scheduled season that features eight home games. After an '05 season marred by a three-game skid, FSU will likely benefit from a favorable mixture of bye weeks and lesser opponents. But with an ever-improving ACC field and annual matchups with rivals Miami and Florida, it' won't be easy.

Game 1 - Miami - Coral Gables, Fla.

Last season the Hurricanes (9-3, 6-2 ACC) fell to the Seminoles on Bobby Bowden Field. This year the 'Noles meet the 'Canes in Miami for the first game of the 2006 season in what is ironically one of their furthest away games. The Hurricanes return with a now-veteran quarterback in Kyle Wright that struggled mightily against the Tribe's defensive rush last year, but faces FSU this time with 2,403 passing yards under his belt. Conference touchdown leader Tyrone Moss - who nabbed 12 rushing scores last season - is still recovering from an ACL injury that might leave the powerful back not up to his usually explosive ways. On the other side of the ball, the 'Canes posses two defensive stars in safety Brandon Merriweather and defensive end Baraka Atkins that could limit FSU quarterback Drew Weatherford's production. Miami does, however, lack in depth at cornerback.

Game 2 - Troy - Tallahassee, Fla.

The Troy Trojans come to Tallahassee in what is the Garnet and Gold's first out-of-conference showdown of the season. The Trojans finished last season tied for fifth place in the Sun Belt Conference with an overall record of 4-7. The contest against the Seminoles is the first of a nasty stretch of games for Troy, who faces Georgia Tech and Nebraska - both on the road - in the weeks following.

Game 3 - Clemson - Tallahassee, Fla.

The Clemson Tigers (8-4, 4-4 ACC) defeated the Seminoles last season in South Carolina in what was a surprisingly lopsided affair. This year, the Tigers travel earlier in the season than usual to meet the 'Noles in Doak S. Campbell Stadium. The player on the offensive side of the ball that is generating a lot of talk is freshman wide receiver Jacoby Ford. The question still remains though, how does Clemson coach Tommy Bowden replace veteran leader Charlie Whitehurst? New quarterback Will Proctor has just 34 career pass attempts and will face an FSU defense one week after taking on Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Game 4 - Rice - Tallahassee, Fla.

In what is likely going to be dubbed this year's "The Citadel game" because of the large discrepancy in level of talent between the two squads, Rice will be looking to hold its own against a Seminole coaching staff eager to test out the new freshmen in a likely blowout contest. FSU just has to remain focused and not look ahead to another squad they lost to last season: N.C. State.

Game 5 - N.C. State - Raleigh, N.C.

Last year, the Wolfpack (7-5, 3-5 ACC) defensive line of Mario Williams, Manny Lawson and John McCargo blasted the decimated Seminole offensive line and quarterbacks Weatherford and Xavier Lee. Well, thanks to a little thing called the NFL Draft, all three of those players have moved on to new homes via first-round selections. FSU couldn't tackle talented running back Andre Brown in last year's loss and will have to key in on him this season as he is now the feature N.C. State offensive weapon.

Game 6 - Duke University - Durham, N.C.

The Garnet and Gold returns to the Duke campus for the second time in as many years to face a Blue Devil (1-10, 0-8 ACC) squad that went winless in the ACC last season. While there aren't many bright spots when referencing a Duke football team, there is one this season: the three tailbacks on the roster all achieved runs of 75 yards or more last season. The utilization of backs Justin Boyle, Ronnie Drummer and Requan Boyette should be interesting to watch.

Game 7 - Boston College - Tallahassee, Fla.

The 'Noles slipped past Boston College (9-3, 5-3 ACC) last season in what was the Eagles first campaign in its new ACC home. The Eagles no longer have a quarterback controversy with Matt Ryan entrenched as the starter this season. The question is whom he will throw the ball to, as Tony Gonzalez is the only BC receiver with any real experience. The Eagles also lost All-American defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka and will be looking to fill his massive shoes.

Game 8 - Maryland - College Park, Md.

Terrapin head coach Ralph Friedgen is taking over play-calling duties this season and Maryland (5-6, 3-5 ACC) will be looking to continue a season-long quest of combating a losing record from last year. Maryland possesses arguably one of the top offensive lines in the entire conference but can inconsistent signal caller Sam Hollenbach get the job done? He no longer has that one guy to throw to anymore either. You know a player by the name of Vernon Davis.

Game 9 - Virginia - Tallahassee, Fla.

After sending the Seminoles into a downward spiral last season, Virginia (7-5, 3-5 ACC) will have to face FSU this year without the player that was responsible for the upset victory: Marques Hagans. The team, now officially in the hands of former backup Notre Dame quarterback Christian Olsen, has a deep stable of receivers and tight ends to get the job done offensively but can the Cavs deal with a tumultuous offseason that saw three players arrested, three kicked off the team and a coaching staff that has been shuffled? In the backfield, Cedric Pearman is a rising star for head coach Al Groh and helps lead a deep tailback rotation.

Game 10 - Wake Forest - Tallahassee, Fla.

FSU must face a Wake Forest (4-7, 3-5 ACC) team that is looking for big things this season after returning 19 starters. Tailback Micah Andrews has fans in Winston-Salem excited about the rushing game despite the graduation of 2005 ACC Offensive Player of the Year Chris Barclay. At quarterback, Ben Mauck finally has the team to himself and has starting experience. The signal caller will, however, have to prove that he can handle the sole responsibility of leading the team now that Cory Randolph isn't there alongside him. Wake Forest is also looking for more production from a talented but disappointing core of receivers.

Game 11 - Western Michigan - Tallahassee, Fla.

In what may be the "tune up" game before the showdown with the team from two hours southeast of Tallahassee, FSU welcomes Western Michigan to town prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. The Broncos do boast a talented quarterback in Tim Hiller that was quietly efficient last season and tossed for 20 touchdowns.

Game 12 - Florida - Tallahassee, Fla.

The Gators come to town boasting a two-game win streak against the Seminoles and FSU faithful, players and coaches alike are hoping that an undefeated season is prolonged by a streak-snapping victory against UF at the end of November. In year No. 2 of the Urban Meyer regime the Gators have a lot of preseason hype heading into the upcoming season. If it's justified, the FSU-UF showdown could be one with important postseason ramifications. Luckily for the Tribe, a month full of homes games prior to the contest will surely help.

Nole Digest Top Stories