Team to beat: Florida State (duh)
Why are they here? Well, they’re defending champs and they return the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. Is there anything else to say? Actually, there is. The Seminoles return four senior starters on the offensive line - LT Cameron Erving (6-6, 302), C Austin Borron (6-3, 292), RG Tre’ Jackson (6-4, 339) and RT Bobby Hart (6-4, 318) - and will plug-in massive junior Josua Matias (6-6, 331) at right tackle. The Seminoles lose their top two rushers, though Karlos Williams (moved over from safety early last season) averaged 8.0 yards per carry on 91 attempts (730 yards) and scored 11 touchdowns looks keen on taking over the No. 1 spot. First round pick Kelvin Bejamin is gone, but Rashad Green came back, and he’ll be looking to break a school record in career receiving yard this year (40 away). The defense will be under new leadership this year, both on and off the field. On the field, it’s the departures of Timmy Jernigan and Jeremy Pruitt, who were key cogs on the Noles championships team a year ago. Off the field, it’s defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, who left for the same position at Georgia after just one season. Florida State’s dominance last year can’t be understated. FSU set a an ACC record by averaging 51.6 points per game and didn’t win a game by less than 14 points until the national championship. The defense gave up just 12.1 points per game, No. 1 in the nation.
The Hurricanes were 7-0 before dynamite running back Duke Johnson went down for the season with a broken ankle. With Johnson (6.3 yards per carry, 115 yards per game) back in the lineup, expect Miami to play more like the team that started the season on a tear, not the one that ended it in a tailspin.