The 2023 FSU football schedule has officially been released and I couldn’t be more excited for this upcoming season. In this article, we’re going to do a game-by-game preview of the full schedule to get an idea of what lies ahead for the Seminoles. I’ve also included a few data points for each team from last season just to give you an idea of how they performed as well as their strength of schedule to see how tough their competition was.
After last season with games on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday this season LSU on Sunday is the only non-Saturday game which is nice to get back on a regular college football schedule. We’ll obviously revisit this closer to the season when all the off-season dust has settled but for now, let’s an early look ahead at the 2023 slate for FSU.
The LSU game will be a huge (potentially top 10) matchup. It won’t be easy now that LSU has had a year of install but FSU should also be a better team than last year. In 2022, I think FSU caught LSU at a good time being game one under a new staff with a new quarterback. In 2023, I think LSU is catching FSU at a bad time with all the returning experienced players. Also being in Orlando you’d have to imagine FSU will have a home-field advantage.
Yes, FSU got a tune-up game last season but they also had zero film to go off of with a Brian Kelly led LSU team. There’s no tune-up game this year for FSU but there won’t be the element of surprise for LSU either. This game is certainly winnable for FSU and I think last year’s win in the Superdome gives them the confidence that they can.
LSU does return quarterback Jayden Daniels and we saw what backup Garret Nussmeier did to Georgia’s secondary. Realistically FSU should have won last year something like 35-17 despite no one outside of FSU circles giving the Noles a chance. LSU had an up-and-down season last year getting smoked at home by Tennessee but also beating Alabama. Brian Kelly is a good coach and LSU has a lot of talented players but so does FSU.
This looks to be one of the biggest games of the season in all of college football.
Keep in mind LSU was in a position to make the playoffs as a two-loss team last season despite losing the opener to FSU. That was until they suffered an ugly loss to Texas A&M in the last game of the regular season so even if it’s a close-fought game that FSU comes out on the wrong end the door isn’t necessarily shut on the goals FSU is trying to accomplish.
If FSU starts the season with a win against a potentially top-10 LSU team they will put the nation on notice that this team is for real. The FSU hype train is running at full speed but I suspect a lot of people still want to see if they can come out and beat this LSU team to validate that hype.
Game 2 brings Southern Miss to Tallahassee on a short week after the Sunday game vs LSU but either way FSU should be able to handle this one. Miami beat them 30-7 last year and they were a dumpster fire. They do have Frank Gore Jr who is a talented player but that’s about it. The Noles should have a decided advantage when it comes to depth and talent. They did hang around for a little bit against Miami last season but then again Miami didn’t even do that against FSU. Stay focused and this should be an easy win for FSU.
Boston College on the road is up next for game 3. This is a game FSU should win anyway especially with BC breaking in a new quarterback once Phil Jurkovec hit the portal. BC plays two cupcakes prior to FSU so this will be their first test and a huge jump in the level of competition.
The good, you avoid a cold weather game late in the season. The bad, it’s a long road trip right before Clemson on the road. Hopefully, it’s an early kick and goes something like last year’s 44-14 beat down so the starters can rest up for the big game the following week. FSU should win this one big no matter where it’s played.
Clemson is up next and in my opinion, this is probably the hardest game on the schedule because of where it’s at. As much as we feel FSU is closing the gap on Clemson, Death Valley is just a hard place to win. The Tigers are on a ridiculous 40-game home win streak and haven’t lost there since the Pitt upset in 2016 which would make it even sweeter if FSU could be the one to snap it.
Clemson does return a lot of talent and still has a loaded roster from years of high-level recruiting but they don’t appear to be the Clemson of old. Tennessee smashed them in the Orange Bowl and granted he was a freshman Klubnik looked bad in that game. However, they did upgrade at OC and also brought back Jeff Scott as an analyst who was one of the co-offensive coordinators during their championship runs.
This game won’t be easy and I don’t like having it after the long road trip to BC. It would have been great to have the bye before this game. However, I do like getting them earlier in the season being they are breaking in that new quarterback and offensive coordinator and may not be fully in sync yet. They open with Duke who isn’t quite the pushover they have been but are not on the level of FSU right now. Clemson then plays two cupcakes after Duke.
As I mentioned with BC, FSU will be a massive jump in the level of competition for Clemson whereas FSU will have already been tested against LSU. If they can get put the clamps on Klubnik and get the offense rolling they could finally turn the ACC tables back in favor of the Noles.
In my opinion, it’s not a bad thing to have FSU’s two toughest games both on the front end of the schedule and both should be against highly ranked teams. This means if they were to drop one they would have time to recover as far as rankings are concerned.
If they drop Clemson, not only is it early but they could possibly get to avenge that loss in the ACCCG if both teams make it. If they make it to October 4-0 with wins over LSU in a neutral site and Clemson on the road they should easily be a top 3-5 team. It’s high risk, high reward to have both of those teams so early but as Bobby used to say, anyone, anytime, anywhere!
FSU then takes on Virginia Tech at home which is hopefully a payback game for 2018. The Hokies were terrible last season under new head coach Brent Pry and I don’t see them improving enough in one year to beat the team we think FSU will be at home.
FSU will also be coming off a bye week whereas VT will be coming off a home game vs Pitt. They had an ok defense last season but their offense was not good at all. They should be better in year two of the new staff but this is a game that FSU should in theory run away with.
The Noles get Syracuse at home in game 6. FSU beat the brakes off Syracuse last season 38-3 and traveling all the way to New York and playing in the Dome isn’t always easy.
Therefore FSU getting them at home should be a sizeable advantage for FSU. That and Syracuse will be coming off a game vs Clemson and at UNC whereas FSU will be coming a bye week and a not-so-great Virginia Tech team. I like FSU to enjoy some fresh squeezed Orange juice again this year.
To round out a three-game home stretch FSU will face the Duke Blue Devils inside Doak Campbell Stadium. Coming off a 9-4 season this game looks a lot harder than it did in the past but it’s still one FSU should win. Don’t get me wrong a 9-win season for Duke is massive for that program but there’s some smoke and mirrors to that record. Duke beat a lot of bad teams last season.
I’ll give them credit for the last two wins of the season over Wake Forest and UCF in the bowl but prior to that, 6 of their 8 FBS wins were against teams with a losing record including four 3-win teams and a 1 win Northwestern squad. The combined record of all 9 teams they beat was 35-57 which included a 7-4 FCS team.
They don’t get such an easy road this season and by the time they face off with FSU, they will have already had to play Clemson, Notre Dame, and NC State with a road game against Louisville the week after.
FSU has never lost to Duke in football and I don’t suspect this will be the year, especially at home. Duke took a few shots with their schedule release videos, particularly at FSU and Clemson. It was honestly good humor but I don’t think they will be the ones laughing when the games are played.
FSU will then play back-to-back road games the first being against Wake Forest who has been a thorn in the Seminoles side for the past few years. However, for the first time is what feels like a decade the Deacs will be without quarterback Sam Hartman. They will also be without wide receiver A.T. Perry who had back-to-back 1,000+ yards seasons.
They still have some talent at receiver and run that ridiculous slow mesh offense but I think FSU finally gets over the hump and serves Wake some humble pie this year. The Deacs seemed to let their recent success go to their heads last year before falling back to earth and finishing with a disappointing 8-5 record last season. Wake also takes on a physical Pitt team the week before they play FSU.
Speaking of Pitt, they are up next on the schedule for FSU. This is what I feel is the third hardest game on the schedule. As I mentioned, Pitt is usually a physical team, and being on the road in a potentially cold weather game feels like this one won’t be easy. Pitt finished 9-4 last season but as with Duke, there’s more to the record than meets the eye. The only good team they really beat was UCLA in their bowl game. To be perfectly honest their best game was probably a close loss to Tennessee.
Five of their eight FBS wins came against teams with a losing record. They also lost to Georgia Tech at home while ranked. However, they did end the season on a 5 game-winning streak. They will be getting a new but familiar face at quarterback in Phil Jurkovec who transferred in from BC after the departure of former starter Kedon Slovis. Jurkovec has the tools to be a decent quarterback but personally, I think he’s overhyped.
They did finish last season ranked 23rd in total defense. However, in the three games against the top 20 offenses (Tennessee, UNC, and UCLA) they gave up 34, 42, and 28 offensive points. Pitt will be coming off back-to-back road games against Wake Forest and Notre Dame which I feel benefits FSU.
FSU is going to have an action-packed November with a big road game at Pitt and both rivalry games only 2 weeks apart. First up is the Miami Hurricanes who after suffering a 45-3 beat down at home last year and now must travel to Tallahassee in what will certainly be a rocking Doak Campbell Stadium. Miami “could” take a step forward with it now being year two under their current staff but I’m not confident that’s going to happen.
Their fan base will make every excuse under the sun to avoid admitting this staff vastly underperformed last season. Coming into 2022 they had enough talent on their roster that they were expected to compete for a coastal championship but ended up finishing 5-7 and getting blown out multiple times including by Middle Tennessee State and Duke. They’ve also lost a fair number of key starters to the portal.
There are a lot of people, especially Oregon fans and myself included, who believe Mario Cristobal is overrated as a coach, and if 2022 was any indication I just don’t see them closing a 42-point gap in one season. Anything goes in a rivalry game and it remains to be seen who they hire as their new offensive coordinator but I like the Noles to roll at home and make it three straight over the Canes.
There’s not much to say about game 11. It’s a cupcake game, nothing more nothing less. North Alabama was 1-10 last season and the only FBS team they played was Memphis who beat them 59-0… The goal of this game is to jump out to a quick lead, get the starters off the field as soon as possible, and avoid injury. This also gives FSU a chance to do some extra preparation for the Florida game the following week. Noles big!
FSU wraps up the regular season with a road trip to the swamp to take on the Florida Gators in the Sunshine Showdown. This game was closer than I expected it to be last season and I’d suspect it won’t be a pushover this year either as they still have some talent on that roster. Unlike Cristobal at Miami, I actually think Billy Napier is a good coach but he’s yet to perform at the Power 5 level.
The thing that makes this game hard to predict this far out is they’ve lost over 20 players to the portal on top of those that will leave due to attrition and the NFL draft. While they have added some pieces from the portal to fill some of those holes if the 30-point loss in the bowl game was any indication of how life without Anthony Richardson is going to go for the Gators it could be another long year.
They whiffed on a few guys in the portal and ended up with Graham Mertz from Wisconsin at quarterback. I’m sure we all remember how our transfer quarterback from Wisconsin worked out… They do have a pair of talented backs and return one of their better receivers in Ricky Pearsall but there will be a lot of new faces on this Gator squad. We’ll have a much better idea of what to expect as the season progresses.
My main concern for this game is if Florida has another bad season and FSU is potentially looking at a big matchup against Clemson the next week in the ACC championship game there is a risk of getting caught looking ahead. However, I couldn’t imagine as heated as this rivalry is and as important as Norvell acknowledges it to be that would be the case.
Overall I’m not mad at this schedule and I think it actually sets up nicely for FSU. They get the two toughest games on the schedule early which leaves plenty of time to recover if a slip-up were to occur. The bye week could be later in the season but I don’t mind it coming after a tough road game against Clemson either.
FSU brings a lot of experience and talent into this season and can certainly beat every team on this schedule. They should be favored in every game except Clemson who gets the home-field advantage and if FSU beats LSU they might even find themselves favored there too. September will be a huge month for the Noles. If they can make it through unscathed or with no more than one loss they “should” be able to win out.
If 2022 taught us anything FSU still has to learn to beat the better competition on its schedule and avoid making costly mistakes that lose them games. Going undefeated is really hard, fun fact in 110 years of playing football the Florida Gators have NEVER had an undefeated season, so I wouldn’t just assume FSU is a lock to go 12-0 but the exciting thing is it’s most certainly on the table if they avoid the mistakes we talked about. I truly believe the floor for this team is 10-2 in the regular season with 11-1 or 12-0 being more likely.
The good thing is with no more divisions in the ACC and a 4 team playoff there is probably room for a mulligan. FSU has high expectations for 2023 and the schedule sets up nicely for that. There should be a good number of games that FSU runs away with in blowout fashion but they will be tested with games like LSU, at Clemson, and at Pitt.
It seems hard to imagine going from 5-7 to potentially winning the ACC and making the playoffs just 2 years later but that is where this team is at in the new era of college football where NIL and the transfer portal can change a team’s trajectory overnight. One thing is for sure, it’s going to be a fun and exciting season and I can’t wait for it to get here! Thanks for reading and Go Noles!!
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