5. Clemson (November 13)
Quarterback Kyle Parker's imminent departure will certainly hurt Clemson, but there is still plenty of talent and the Tiger's tend to do better when expectations are low.
We would love to just look to road games for our "toughest games", but FSU has simply not owned Doak Campbell Stadium like they should in the past five years.....and it is wins in games like this that will turn that around.
This game figures to have big ramifications within the division, the winner would seemingly be the favorite to the make the ACC Championship game in December.
We are sure that Christian Ponder would love a big game vs. the team that ended his season in 2009.
4. North Carolina (November 6)
UNC seems to improve every year under Head Coach Butch Davis and this should be his best team yet in Chapel Hill.
The Tar Heel's present a big problem because they are expected to field one of the most talented defenses in the country. If they are able to keep Ponder in check, that puts pressure on a FSU defensive unit that may not be up to the task.
While not a division game, it is an important conference game late in the season. UNC is known to be a little up and down and they do have an important game with Virginia Tech lurking the week after FSU.
This is another example of a home game that has to be won going forward.
3. at Oklahoma (September 11)
We are not sure what to expect from OU in 2010. They are garnering plenty of pre-season accolades and clearly will be favored at home. In fact, by Las Vegas standards this might be our toughest game.
As Dennis Green once said "if you want to crown them, crown them", I am not buying.....yet.
While this is not a game that FSU is expected to win, it is a game that we should be "in". Miami was blasted in Norman a few years back and we have to avoid a similar fate.
Early in the year this has the chance to really set the tone (either positive or negative). Ponder is the better, more consistent QB and frankly we probably have better offensive talent(or at least comparable).
This game will be on the defense, it has to come up with stops to get that up tempo OU attack off the field.
2. at Miami (October 9)
The annual game with Miami slides ahead of OU because, simply put, it is more important. No other rivalry has played as many memorable games in the last 30 years and it is a good bet that this will be another one.
This game is played on emotion and FSU has had the better of it in three of the last five. Last year's game was simply awful defensively (on both sides), both teams are expected to have better units, however both offenses should be better as well.
Back to the traditional early October date, we expect some points in this one as the offenses start to really hit their stride. Travis Benjamin needs to be accounted for.....he has killed the Noles the past two years.
Bottom line, we have to make plays in the fourth quarter and probably win the turnover battle.
1. Florida (November 27)
After six straight losses it is time to turn the tables on our neighbors to the south. There seemingly is no better time than now with a home game and a weakened UF team.
It grabs the #1 spot because it is the single most important game to win in 2011. This rivalry has a different feel than the Miami one and recruiting wise a win would do wonders.
UF has a number of holes to fill, while there is talent, there is no guarantee that they can replace the production of several top tier college players. It might be an easier offense to defend schematically without the dual threat Tim Tebow. John Brantley certainly presents his own problems, but he has not proven anything yet.
A win in this one could be a second signal to Urban Meyer (Nick Saban and Alabama last year) that things are not quite so easy. It would also be a huge confidence boost to a young Head Coach.