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Florida State Seminoles’ 5 Biggest Games in 2013

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Florida State Seminoles' Biggest Games in 2013

Steve Mitchell-USA Today Sports

Finally, the Florida State Seminoles are relevant once again. It took a few years for head coach Jimbo Fisher, but he’s brought the Seminoles back into the national spotlight by recruiting and developing players like the Noles teams of the past. In 2012, Fisher led the Seminoles to an ACC Championship, a BCS bowl victory and tied a school record with 12 wins. Expectations will once again be high in 2013.

In order to maintain the momentum the program is building, the Noles will have to overcome two major obstacles this season. First, they will have to break-in a new defensive coordinator, Jeremy Pruitt, after Mark Stoops took the head coaching job at the University of Kentucky. And secondly, they will have to contend with a brutal road schedule, including a trip to rival Florida to end the season.

If reports from spring practices are true, Pruitt’s defensive style will be dramatically different than what Noles fans became accustomed to under Stoops. Returning safety Terrence Brooks summarized the changes, according to the Miami Herald, saying the Noles will feature, “A lot more blitzes, I mean I’m blitzing a lot more coming off the edge. Just our blitz schemes, I feel like I like it a lot, it gives us a chance to make more plays."

Even if the defense is able to perform at the high level it did in 2012, the schedule is going to be the biggest potential problem. Three difficult road games await redshirt freshman Jameis Winston and the rest of the Seminoles.

Here’s a look at the five biggest games for Florida State in 2013.

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5.) North Carolina State Wolfpack, October 26th (Home)

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While the Wolfpack will have a lot of question marks heading into this season, they always play Florida State tough. In fact, they’ve won two of the last three match-ups in the series, including last year’s game when they shocked the number two ranked Seminoles. It will be a home game against a team in transition, but the Noles haven't played well against them in recent years.

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4.) Pittsburgh Panthers, September 2nd (Road)

Charles LeClaire-USA Today Sports

The Seminoles will once again play the ACC opener in primetime on Labor Day. It will be Pittsburgh’s first game in the ACC, so the home crowd will be raucous. It won’t be a glorified scrimmage like the last three season openers the Noles have played against lesser opponents. A Monday night road test against a new conference opponent makes this year’s season opener a very tough task. Add in the fact that it will be Jameis Winston’s first college start, and it’s a game that suddenly scares Florida State fans.

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3.) Miami Hurricanes, November 2nd (Home)

Steve Mitchell-USA Today Sports

Miami could be very good on offense this year. It brings back experienced quarterback Stephen Morris and sophomore superstar running back Duke Johnson. Both will be playing behind an offensive line that will be one of the better units in the ACC. However, its defense has a few gaping holes in it. There’s no doubt that Florida State has a better team from a personnel standpoint, but you never know in a rivalry game. If the Seminoles come into the game 7-0, you know Miami will be motivated to ruin their national championship hopes.

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2.) Clemson Tigers, October 19th (Road)

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This is the premier game on the ACC slate for 2013. Both teams have gone head-to-head in recruiting for years, and there’s no love lost between head coaches Jimbo Fisher and Dabo Swinney. The Tigers will be outstanding on offense yet again, led by All-ACC quarterback Tahj Boyd. Playing in Death Valley for the first time will be difficult for Florida State QB Jameis Winston as well. It’s a hostile environment for anyone, but especially for an inexperienced freshman.

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1.) Florida Gators, November 30th (Road)

Kevin Liles-USA Today Sports

What a way to end the year for both of these teams. Florida State-Florida is one of the best rivalries in college football, and it’s reflected in their passionate fan bases. Florida State will be looking for revenge after a humiliating loss at home last year, while many in Gainesville feel like this year’s team can compete for a national title. This game has had some serious national title game implications over the last 30, and it could once again. However, even if neither team is undefeated, it will be the biggest game of the year because...well, it always is.