Key stretch: at Miami, Boston College, at NC State (Oct. 9-Oct. 28)
Analysis: The rivalry game against the Hurricanes is almost always a thriller, and the Seminoles likely haven’t forgotten that Miami won last year’s game on the final play after a Florida State pass was ruled incomplete in the end zone. Boston College is an opponent the Seminoles can’t afford to overlook, as they lost to the Eagles last year and three of the past four meetings. The game should help determine the Atlantic Division winner. Although expectations surrounding NC State are lower, last year’s seesaw game was proof anything can happen, and this year the Pack will host Florida State in an ESPN-televised Thursday night game.
Prediction:The matchup against the Canes would be much more interesting if both programs won their respective nonconference games, giving the rivalry a restored national subplot. Otherwise, it could be a sneak preview of the ACC championship game, much like the Clemson-Georgia Tech game was in 2009. Regardless of what’s at stake, it’s a game that’s impossible to predict, so I’ll stick with the home team and give the Canes the preseason edge. As for Boston College, home-field advantage hasn’t helped the Seminoles. BC has won in Tallahassee both times since joining the league. Still, Florida State’s offense has more depth -- particularly at running back -- and should have the edge up front when they have the ball. The NC State game is another wild card. Look for an upset in Raleigh.
More key stretches: