With the 2023 college football season fast approaching, Yahoo Sports is rolling out our annual Top 25. We revealed Nos. 11 through 25 in three parts and are now counting down from No. 10 to No. 1 in the days leading up to the official start of the season on Aug. 26.
No. 9 Florida State
2022 record: 10-3 (5-3 ACC)
National title odds: +1800
Over/under: 9.5 wins
Is 2023 the season for Florida State’s return to glory?
The Seminoles won 10 games for the first time since 2016 a season ago and look poised to take another step forward in Mike Norvell’s fourth season in Tallahassee. That step forward should mean the team’s first top-10 finish since 2015 or even College Football Playoff contention.
Jordan Travis had a breakout season in 2022 with 3,214 passing yards and 32 total touchdowns. Travis got better as a passer and became more efficient as a runner in his third season with the Seminoles. He’s a dark horse Heisman candidate to start the year. Johnny Wilson returns out wide and the addition of Michigan State WR Keon Coleman through the transfer portal could be one of the biggest additions of the spring. Coleman had 58 catches for 798 yards in 2022 and could immediately become Travis’ most reliable target.
The return of defensive end Jared Verse is huge for a defense that gave up just over 20 points per game and 4.8 yards per play in 2022. The former FCS transfer had 17 tackles for loss and nine sacks in 2022 and forms a very good edge rushing duo with Patrick Payton (five sacks).
The defense could be even better than it was a season ago thanks to other transfers. Former Virginia CB Fentrell Cypress should step straight into the starting lineup and ex-Western Michigan DL Braden Fiske provides great depth up front. Former South Carolina DE Gilber Edmond adds talent on the edge behind Verse.
Reloading via the transfer portal
Coleman isn’t the only key transfer portal addition on the offense.
The Seminoles added TE Jaheim Bell from South Carolina and he looks to be an intriguing option all over the field. Bell had 73 carries for the Gamecocks in 2022 and has 55 catches over the past two seasons. He should be the best receiving threat Florida State has had at tight end during Norvell’s tenure.
The offensive line does need to replace two starters but transfer additions like Keiondre Jones from Auburn and Jeremiah Byers from UTEP should help replenish the line. That will pave the way for Trey Benson. He enters the season as the undisputed No. 1 rushing threat after Treshaun Ward’s transfer to Kansas State. Benson rushed for 990 yards and nine TDs in 2022.
Biggest game: Sept. 23 at Clemson
We should have a decent idea of just how good Florida State is early in the season. The Seminoles play LSU in the biggest game of the opening weekend. The two teams produced a thriller a season ago as FSU won on a missed extra point. Three weeks later, Florida State travels to Clemson in a potential ACC title game preview.
From there, the schedule is much more manageable with the real possibility of no other ranked opponents the rest of the season. If Florida State can get by both LSU and Clemson, it could be an incredibly special season.
Impact player: WR Johnny Wilson
Wilson averaged nearly 21 yards per catch in his first season at FSU.
The 6-foot-7 target has the coveted combination of size and speed and needs to work on making a more consistent impact on a weekly basis in 2023. Wilson had seven games with two or fewer catches in 2022 before he exploded with eight catches for 202 yards against a bad Oklahoma defense in the Cheez-It Bowl.
You shouldn’t expect that type of performance from Wilson every week in 2023. But if Coleman’s presence can draw attention away from Wilson, he should have better statistics this season.
Pick: Over 9.5 wins (-145)
Since we have Florida State in the top 10, we have to go with a 10-2 season or better, right? The Seminoles are more than capable of beating at least one of LSU and Clemson and it’s hard to find two other losses on the schedule if FSU splits those games. The toughest stretch post-Clemson on Florida State’s ACC slate includes back-to-back trips to Wake Forest and Pitt before a home game against Miami.