After being represented every year in the College Football Playoff (CFP), the ACC has now gone two straight years without representation. Florida State won the last-ever BCS National Championship and then represented the conference in the inaugural CFP (2014-2015) before falling to Oregon in the semi-final.
For the next six seasons, Clemson represented the conference every year and even brought home two national championships – tied with Georgia for the second most of the CFP era – in that span.
If the Michigan Wolverines make their third consecutive appearance in the CFP, who from the ACC represents the biggest threat this season?
Ending the four-team format with the same team that began it for the ACC, Florida State makes the most sense here.
The Seminoles return the most production in all of FBS from a team that finished 10-3, including winning six straight games to finish the season. Quarterback Jordan Travis returns to lead an offense that finished 16th in scoring in 2022 and has now added Michigan State transfer Keon Coleman to join Travis’s favorite target, the 6’7 Johnny Wilson at wide receiver.
Easing the pressure on Travis and the offense is star running back Trey Benson who rushed for just shy of 1,000 yards last season while averaging a staggering 6.4 yards-per-carry.
Defensively, Florida State returns four-of-five in the secondary and an experienced defensive line led by veteran tackle Fabien Lovett and All-Planet pass rusher Jared Verse. Verse is viewed as a top-three pass rusher in the country and has been compared to former NFL Pro Bowler Ryan Kerrigan.
Head coach Mike Norvell has incrementally restored glory to this prestigious program, increasing his win total every season during his four-year run. If he would like to continue this trend and reach 11, 12, 13, 14, or even 15 wins this season, there are three key games that will decide their fate.
The Seminoles open up against fellow national championship contender LSU in Orlando. This game is a rematch from last year’s classic in which Florida State clung to a one-point victory on a game-winning blocked extra point.
Three weeks after playing LSU, Florida State will travel to Death Valley for a clash with Clemson – a team the Seminoles have not beaten since 2014. After a manageable October, Florida State closes the regular season in The Swamp against the Florida Gators. The Seminoles broke a three-game skid against Florida last season, but winning in Gainesville is never an easy task.
If Florida State can survive these decisive match-ups — or even drop one and claim victory in a conference championship game rematch — the Seminoles should have a resume worthy of a CFP participant.
Other teams in the mix from the ACC will be the aforementioned Clemson Tigers with new offensive coordinator Garrett Riley, and North Carolina led by head coach Mack Brown and quarterback Drake Maye. The ACC will be strong at the top this year, but will they be strong enough to end the CFP drought?