By Tim Linafelt
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
@Tim_Linafelt on Twitter
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The 2015 Florida State Seminoles will face seven teams that went to bowl games last year and play three teams from the state of Florida. They'll also make a rare appearance under Friday-night lights.
The Atlantic Coast Conference released its 2015 football schedule Thursday morning, providing plenty to pore over and examine. Here are some of the highlights.
Start of a new era
Florida State’s new-look team will debut on Sept. 5 in the season-opener against Texas State. The Seminoles are replacing several key contributors from last year’s squad, most notably quarterback Jameis Winston. Sean Maguire is the only quarterback on the roster with any game experience, but he’ll face competition from John Franklin and J.J. Cosentino, among others.
Whoever lines up at quarterback will do it behind a new offensive line. Roderick Johnson, who as a freshman helped anchor the line over the season’s final two months last year, is back. But otherwise, the Seminoles are tasked with replacing four senior starters. And coordinator Charles Kelly’s defense will be breaking in new starters on the defensive line and in the secondary.
College football fans will recognize a familiar face on the Texas State sideline. Dennis Franchione, who coached at TCU (1998-2000), Alabama (2001-02) and Texas A&M (2003-2007), has led the Bobcats since 2011. It’s actually Franchione’s second stint at TSU. He coached there in 1981-82 when the school was known as Southwest Texas State.
Besides the usual tilts against Florida and Miami, FSU also welcomes South Florida to Tallahassee on Sept. 12. Coach Jimbo Fisher is 11-1 against schools from the state of Florida since taking over as head coach in 2010, including a 5-0 mark over Miami and a 4-1 record against Florida.
For the second time in three seasons, FSU won’t play on a Thursday. The Seminoles will, however, play on a Friday night when they visit Boston College on Sept. 18. It marks Florida State’s first Friday game since their 2004 contest at Miami, which was originally scheduled for a Monday but was postponed by tropical storms. FSU has played on a Friday 30 times in school history, including eight bowl games.
Run the gauntlet
Florida State's one and only bye week of the season comes on Sept. 26, which means the Seminoles will finish the season with nine straight games. That number will reach 10 if FSU makes it to the ACC Championship Game. The Seminoles had two bye weeks during the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
A new Octoberfest?
After an Oct. 3 visit to Wake Forest, FSU comes home for the start of a three-game stretch that could define the season.
It starts when Miami visits for an Oct. 10 date that returns that annual matchup to its traditional place in mid-October. A week later, Louisville comes to Tallahassee for the first time since 2000 and first time ever as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Finally, FSU closes out that three-game run with its first trip to Georgia Tech since 2008. The Yellow Jackets return quarterback Justin Thomas from last year’s Orange Bowl Championship team.
All told, the Seminoles finished a combined 3-0 against Miami, Louisville and Georgia Tech last year, but those wins came by a combined 17 points and required late-game rallies against the Hurricanes and Cardinals.
How FSU fares against those three will go along way toward deciding if the Seminoles make a fourth straight trip to Charlotte.
The Seminoles host Syracuse for Parents’ Weekend on Oct. 31, marking the ninth time FSU has played on Halloween. The Seminoles are 8-1 all-time on Oct. 31, with their only loss coming at Georgia in 1959.
November in Death Valley
All the ACC fireworks in October lead up to the league’s annual main event on November 14. Florida State and Clemson haven’t met this late in the season since 2010, and a season’s worth of buildup could lead to a mountain of hype by the time they kick off this year. The winner of the FSU-Clemson game has won the Atlantic Division in each of the last six seasons, with the home team going 5-1 in that span.
The Seminoles play two games at home before their season-ending visit to Florida.
The first, against North Carolina State, will feature a rematch from last season’s wild, entertaining tilt in Raleigh. Wolfpack quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who threw three touchdown passes in last year’s game against FSU, is back for his senior season.
Next up Tennessee-Chattanooga, the lone Football Championship Subdivision opponent on FSU’s slate. The Moccasins visit for one last tune-up before the Nov. 28 trip to Gainesville. The Gators by then will be near the end of Year 1 under new coach Jim McElwain.
Florida State has won two straight at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for the first time since 1987 and ’89 and third time in school history. The Seminoles are searching for three straight wins at UF for the first time ever.