Underachievers: Time to rev up the Florida State hype machine again

Graham Watson

This week, Dr. Saturday has been profiling the nation's top five underachieving teams from a year ago and whether they're deserving of the pressure and the praise in 2012.

Notre Dame, Nebraska and Texas A&M have already occupied three spots and now it's time to profile the nation's No. 2 underachieving team from a year ago. Actually, this team probably would have landed on this list each of the past three seasons.

But it didn't work out that way.

Oklahoma went into Doak Campbell Stadium and had a fourth quarter surge to beat the Seminoles 23-13. The loss would ultimately snowball as the Florida State proceeded to lose its next two games against Clemson and Wake Forest.

All of a sudden, Florida State was reliving past failures and watching their dream season turn into a disappointing one yet again.

In all fairness, Florida State was without Manuel, who suffered a shoulder injury against Oklahoma. Backup Clint Trickett did his best to keep Florida State in every game, but the Seminoles could never get both sides of the ball playing well at the same time.

Florida State did rebound to win its next five, but a late season loss to Virginia coupled with Clemson's strong play knocked the Seminoles out of contention for the ACC Atlantic.

The Seminoles defense returns nine players, including the entire front line and half of a fantastic secondary. Cornerback Greg Reid has had some legal issues this offseason, which might be a concern early, but if not, the Seminoles are more than capable of having the nation's best defense.

The offensive line might be the biggest question because it was beaten up last year, but it still has three returning starters and will get better throughout the season.

It also helps that the schedule sets up well. Two of the toughest games — Clemson and Florida — are at home and even though the Seminoles do have to travel to Virginia Tech on a Thursday night, they do so coming off a bye.

It's hard to believe in Florida State. They get your hopes up early and then squash them in the same motion. But this team, after what it went through a year ago, should be ready to take its place in the national spotlight.

No. 2 Florida State
2011: 9-4 (5-3 ACC)
For the third consecutive season, Florida State was picked to win the ACC Atlantic Division, but for the first time in that stretch, many thought the Seminoles could contend for a national title. So they opened the season preseason No. 6 in the Associated Press Poll and No. 5 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. And there was no reason for anyone to think Florida State wouldn't live up to these expectations. There was a lot of buzz surrounding new quarterback E. J. Manuel and the Seminoles had one of the nation's best receiving corps. Coach Jimbo Fisher was especially excited about a defense that was loaded in the secondary and returned three of the team's top four players up front. This was supposed to be the year Florida State returned to national prominence.
What Happened?
It was no secret that for Florida State to be taken seriously as a contender for a national title, the Seminoles would have to prove that the 47-17 beatdown at the hands of Oklahoma in 2010 was aberration. So, after cruising through games against Louisiana-Monroe and Charleston Southern, Florida State finally got a chance to show the nation that they were a team to be reckoned with.
Key Losses
No. 21 Clemson 35-30; Wake Forest 35-30; Virginia 14-13
What Now?
Once again Florida State will come into the season with high expectations and once again they're deserved. The Seminoles return 17 starters, including a veteran quarterback in Manuel and a defense that would make Nick Saban blush.
Should You Believe?
If defense wins championships — and it did for Alabama a year ago — then Florida State is a team worthy of praise and attention.
2012 Prediction: 12-0 (8-0 ACC)

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