Florida State Football: Will Noles Relish Underdog Role in 2013?

By Patrick Mahoney
Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

At the beginning of the past two seasons, the Florida State Seminoles have been the favorite to win the Atlantic Coast Conference. In 2013 however, that is not the case. This season, the Clemson Tigers look to be the favorite to win the ACC, and with good reason.

The Tigers return starting quarterback, preseason All-ACC selection, and Heisman candidate Tahj Boyd. In 2012, Boyd led the ACC in total offense, total touchdowns, passing touchdowns, and pass efficiency. Boyd was also second in passing yards and completion percentage. Not only does Clemson return Boyd, but they also return one of the most electric players in college football, Sammy Watkins. Clemson also figures to field one of the best offensive lines in the ACC. Simply put, their offense looks to have another dominating year despite the losses of wide receiver DeAndre ‘Nuke’ Hopkins and running back Andre Ellington.

For the Seminoles, the outlook is a little more foggy. The Seminoles had 11 players selected in the 2013 NFL Draft, including three first round picks: quarterback EJ Manuel, defensive end Bjoern Werner, and cornerback Xavier Rhodes. The Seminoles return seven starters on offense and only four on defense. Florida State also lost six coaches from the 2012 staff, including former defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. Stoops took over the head coaching position for the University of Kentucky Wildcats. Stoops’ replacement at Florida State is former Alabama Crimson Tide defensive backs coach, Jeremy Pruitt.

Despite all of the offseason losses, the Noles still look to have a successful season in 2013. The outcome of the Atlantic division in the ACC will most likely be decided in an October 19 showdown between Florida State and Clemson in Death Valley; Florida State has came out victorious in Death Valley since 2001. There is no doubt about it; this will be a tough game for Florida State.

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