The Daily Nole

FSU Getting More Than its Share of Preseason Love

Mitch White/FSU athletics

Over the last several seasons, Florida State fans haven’t exactly held the highest opinion of media figures, especially those on the national front. For the most part, they’re justified in that assessment.

The vast bulk of the gripes came with the way former quarterback Jameis Winston was portrayed. Winston, the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner and first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, was accused of raping a fellow student late in 2012. Though he was cleared by three separate entities, every questionable action he made or was accused of afterward — no matter how mundane — was magnified.

FSU’s on-the-field performance also underwent an absurd amount of scrutiny, given its success. Fans had to put up with media figures downplay the Seminoles’ accomplishments in 2014 based on conference affiliation and things like the “eye test” despite being the only team to head into the first College Football Playoff undefeated.

This offseason however, things seem to be different — at least to this point. Even though Florida State is coming off its worst season in four years, the preseason buzz around the Seminoles this offseason has mostly been positive.

With an offense that returns all 11 starters and a defense that has a ton of talent including safety Derwin James, defensive end DeMarcus Walker and cornerback Marquez White, the Seminoles appear in the top 5 in just about every poll.

Fox Sports’ Stewart Mandel’s latest preseason poll has FSU at No. 2 behind only Alabama. Sports Illustrated has the Seminoles third in its post-spring poll and ESPN, the entity that FSU fans have been perhaps most critical of, has the Seminoles as No. 1 in its current Football Power Index rankings.

The preseason love for Florida State however, didn’t stop with the media, but extended to Las Vegas. Late last week, the Seminoles opened as an 8.5-point favorite over Ole Miss in the 2016 Labor Day opener in Orlando.

FSU being more than a touchdown favorite over a team from college football’s most celebrated division (SEC West) speaks volumes as to what many feel the Seminoles will be capable of in 2016. Ole Miss is suffering quite a bit of attrition, including three players that went in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, but the Rebels are coming off consecutive New Year’s Six bowl appearances and are the only team to beat Alabama during the regular season in each of the last two years.

For Florida State fans, it’s not a huge surprise to see a high bar set for the Seminoles. FSU has one of the nation’s most explosive backs in Dalvin Cook, a deep corps of receivers and a very talented defense. To see so much positive preseason acclaim from some of names that tend to be among FSU’s harshest critics however, is a bit of a pleasant surprise.

Over the past several seasons, it seems that the Seminole faithful got the biggest thrills out of watching FSU prove some of its critics wrong. With what seems to be a pleasantly different tone this offseason, the Seminoles now have a number of entities they’d be best served to prove right.

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