Today we look at No. 21 – Florida State.
Top 25 to date
No. 25: LSU
No. 24: Texas
No. 23: Central Florida
No. 22: Oregon
Nuts and bolts
Location: Tallahassee, Florida
Coach: Willie Taggart (first season at FSU; 47-50 overall at Western Kentucky, South Florida and Oregon)
2017: 7-6, 3-5 ACC (beat Southern Miss 42-13 in Independence Bowl)
Last league title: 2014
Three things to know
1. Taggart time. Florida State is on to its second coach in the post-Bobby Bowden era as Jimbo Fisher bolted for Texas A&M after eight seasons in Tallahassee. Taggart returns to his home state after spending a year at Oregon.
Taggart is known for a fast, aggressive style of play on offense, something he likes to refer to as “Lethal Simplicity.” That phrase has brought a lot of energy and excitement to a fan base that had fallen out of favor with Fisher since the Seminoles’ 2013 championship season.
2. RBs galore. “Lethal” is a fitting term for Florida State’s running back corps. Cam Akers and Khalan Laborn were five-star recruits coming out of high school, and Jacques Patrick is looking to have a stellar senior season.
Akers led the team in rushing with 1,024 yards and seven TDs last season, and Patrick finished with 748 yards and seven TDs.
The questions going into the season are who will be the starting quarterback (James Blackman or Deondre Francois) and is the offensive line going to improve after allowing 32 sacks last season.
3. Defensive shift. The Seminoles lost plenty of talent from its defense last season, namely safety Derwin James, defensive end Josh Sweat and defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi. But Florida State is looking to reload, not rebuild.
The secondary is strong with returners such as Levonta Taylor, Stanfrod Samuels III and Hamsah Nasirildeen. On the line, look for Brian Bruns and Demarcus Christmas to step up.
But the most interesting defensive player may be DeCalon Brooks, son of FSU legend Derrick Brooks, who is vying for snaps at linebacker.
Three games to watch
1. Sept. 3 vs. Virginia Tech. This isn’t the easiest way for Taggart to start his Florida State tenure. At least Virginia Tech has a major defensive makeover on its hands.
2. Oct. 27 vs. Clemson. This game should have plenty of riding on it in deciding the ACC champion and it’ll be interesting to see how “lethal” Florida State will be against a stout Clemson D.
3. Nov. 10 at Notre Dame. You never know. Maybe this will be like the 1993 matchup which is considered one of the greatest college football games in history. In that historic game, No. 2 Notre Dame knocked off No. 1 Florida State 31-24.