When you win the national title and then return 13 starters, you’re more than likely going to be considered the easy favorite for the following season as well. That’s exactly what is happening to the Florida State Seminoles for the 2014 season. While there are many other top teams in the nation who could challenge the Seminoles, it might be yet another banner year for the Seminoles.
It has to be tough losing out on a conference title because of a loss to an in-state rival on the last game of the season — just ask the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Oklahoma State put together a 10-1 start to the season along with a 7-1 start to conference play before losing to Oklahoma in the final regular season game of the season to lose out on a conference title.
Florida State is led by Heisman-winning quarterback Jameis Winston who had a heck of a 2013 season, passing for 4,057 yards and 40 touchdowns in his freshman season. Winston also added some decent yardage and four touchdowns on the ground. The sophomore quarterback returns his top target in Rashad Greene who caught a team-high 67 passes for 981 yards and nine touchdowns last season. Although the run game loses top rusher in Devonta Freeman, Karlos Williams is expected to be a stud in the backfield as he finished with 705 yards and 11 touchdowns with an 8.2 yards per carry average as a backup.
Oklahoma State also returns a quarterback with some starting experience, but not nearly as much success as Winston. Junior J.W. Walsh will be taking the reigns this year as the team’s No. 1 starter and will hold it for as long as he can handle the pressure. He had split time in the past two seasons as the starter and hadn’t been overly spectacular, passing for 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns in 2013. Jhajuan Seales is the lead returning receiver for Walsh as he caught 39 passes for 571 yards and three scores last season. Don’t sleep on the run game as senior running back Desmond Roland finished the season with a team-high 811 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Defensively, Oklahoma State wasn’t exactly a slouch, but it wasn’t a top-tier unit, by any means. Although they did rank 19th in the nation in scoring defense, the Cowboys ranked just 79th in passing yards allowed as well as 52nd in total yards allowed per game. Florida State was quite the opposite, ranking first in the nation in scoring defense as well as first in passing yards allowed per game. The Seminoles had the third best overall defense in the country in 2013 — a big reason they won the national title.
Oklahoma State will travel to Dallas and AT&T Stadium to take on the Seminoles at 8 p.m. EST on Saturday, Aug. 30. The game will be broadcasted on ABC and ESPN 3.
PREDICTION: Oklahoma State 24, Florida State 38
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at email@example.com.