Florida State Seminoles: Nebraska

ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit became the latest pundit to jump on the Florida State bandwagon Tuesday, when he picked the Seminoles to win the national championship. It's a prediction shared by writer Phil Steele, who chose FSU to win it all earlier this summer.

That's a bit more enthusiasm than the voting populace has displayed, but Florida State nevertheless will open the season ranked seventh in both the AP and Coaches' polls, and coach Jimbo Fisher isn't doing anything to temper the enthusiasm.

"I love being up there," Fisher said. "The higher up you start, the less you have to climb."

But while Fisher's point might have merit, FSU's problems during the past decade have had little to do with where the Seminoles have started the season and much more to do with where they've ended it.

FSU hasn't finished the year ranked in the AP top 10 since the end of the 2000 season, twice finishing unranked. The ugly finishes have never seemed to dampen hope among AP voters, who have continued to assume things would turn around virtually every summer.

Since 2000, Florida State's average preseason ranking is 12th, but it's only finished a season that high once.

In just three of the past 11 seasons has FSU wrapped up the year ranked higher than where it began, including 2008 when the Seminoles opened the season unranked but finished 21st.

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