TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – The Florida State Seminoles come into 2012 ranked seventh in the country and don’t figure to get much of a test for at least the first two weeks of the season.
FSU is playing Football Championship Subdivision teams Murray State and Savannah State in consecutive weeks thanks to West Virginia University buying its way out of a game against the Seminoles this year.
The Seminoles will once again field one of the top defenses in the country, but what will determine how far the Noles go will be the offensive line and senior quarterback E.J. Manuel.
Last year, Manuel completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,666 yards, 18 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. He also ran the ball for 156 yards and four touchdowns. But, Manuel has been injury-prone throughout his career and missed all or parts of games last year against Oklahoma, Clemson, and Wake Forest, all three of which the Seminoles lost.
Manuel will be protected this year by a new offensive line that will have two offensive tackles making their first college start along with two guards making only their second starts. Center Bryan Stork is the veteran of the group with seven starts for the Seminoles.
FSU tore through the second half of their schedule last season, with the only blip being a 14-13 loss to Virginia. But, in the bowl game against Notre Dame, FSU had a patchwork offensive line that allowed the Irish to put a lot of pressure on the Noles offense, which kept the game closer than some would have liked.
The Seminoles should have no such problems with Murray State to start the season. The Racers finished last season with a 7-4 record, but finished the season on a three game winning streak. But, that was against FCS teams and now the Racers have to travel to the Doak to play FSU.
The Seminoles defense last season was spectacular. FSU ranked fourth in the nation in scoring defense allowing just 15.1 points per game, according to cfbstats.com. FSU ranked second in the country in rushing defense, allowing just 82.7 yards per game and ranked 20th in pass defense allowing just 192.3 yards per game through the air.
FSU and Murray State kickoff Saturday at 6 p.m. at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee.