The 2022 season is upon us for Florida State.
Fresh off a 5-7 campaign, the Seminoles will open the year on Saturday against Duquesne. FSU has suffered through four straight losing seasons.
Third-year head coach Mike Norvell will look to flip the script in 2022. For him to keep his job, that is a must.
Our 4-part series predicting the outcome of each FSU game in 2022 comes to its conclusion. We continued on Wednesday by showcasing games seven through nine. The series ends with an important closing stretch to end the regular season.
at Syracuse, Nov. 12
Coming off a massive projected 28-27 road victory over rival Miami, the Seminoles look to be gaining momentum as they head into the Carrier Dome to play Syracuse. During last season’s matchup at Doak Campbell Stadium, the Seminoles needed a game-winning field goal from kicker Ryan Fitzgerald to seal the 33-30 victory. Unfortunately for the Seminoles in this matchup, the Orange will be returning 17 starters.
Their offense will be led by quarterback Garrett Shrader who torched FSU’s defense with 287 yards and three touchdowns last season. They also return one of the nation’s top running backs in Sean Tucker (1,496 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2021) from a season ago. Their top two wide receivers in Courtney Jackson (389 yards and three touchdowns) and Damien Alford (249 yards and two touchdowns) are back as well.
Defensively, linebackers Mikel Johnson (109 tackles) and Marlowe Wax (seven sacks) return. However, the secondary has to be much more consistent in 2022. Syracuse only generated seven turnovers last season.
Head coach Dino Babers will be coaching for his job during his seventh season with the Orange. Things won’t be easy: Syracuse will play North Carolina, at Clemson, Notre Dame and at Pittsburgh over a four-game stretch before playing the Seminoles. Given the demand to win in today’s college football, Babers will have to generate a level of success to remain with the Orange. Fresh off a win over Miami, this is a chance to catch FSU sleeping.
Prediction: Syracuse 27, FSU 24
vs. Louisiana, Nov. 19
The Ragin’ Cajuns had a phenomenal 2021 season where they finished with a 13-1 record and won the Sun Belt. Entering 2022, however, there are obstacles that they will need to be addressed. That includes losing head coach Billy Napier to Florida. Louisiana will also have to replace quarterback Levi Lewis — the program’s all-time leading passer.
Thankfully, running back Chris Smith (855 yards and eight touchdowns in 2021) is returning. Louisiana will replacing two of its better offensive linemen in O’Cyrus Torrence (transferred to Florida) and Max Mitchell (NFL).
Unfortunately for the Ragin’ Cajuns on the defensive side of the football, three of their top tacklers from a season ago are no longer on the team. Defensive linemen Andre Jones (60 tackles and six sacks) and Zi’Yon Hill (58 tackles and 5.5 sacks) are back. Coming off a projected heartbreaking loss to Syracuse, the Seminoles need to come out focused and prepared before their big rivalry matchup against Florida.
Prediction: FSU 41, Louisiana 17
vs. Florida, Nov. 25
The Gators will be trotting out their seventh head coach in the span of 12 years in 2022. Billy Napier transitions from Lafayette to Gainesville. Interestingly enough, both Louisiana and Florida’s home stadiums have the nickname, “The Swamp.”
Unfortunately for Florida, it was a rough 2021 season. The Gators finished the campaign with a 6-7 record. Now they embark the upcoming season with a plethora of tough opponents, including Utah, Kentucky, Tennessee, LSU, Georgia, Texas A&M, South Carolina and Florida State.
Quarterback Emory Jones transferred to Arizona State. In comes sophomore quarterback Anthony Richardson, who had an up-and-down freshman campaign. As a freshman, Richardson completed 59.4% of his passes for 529 yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions. But he showed success against the Seminoles in relief duty where he completed five of his seven passes for 55 yards and one touchdown.
While Richardson has showcased the ability to be a serviceable quarterback in the SEC, he has not been able to stay healthy. Florida will have to replace the likes of running back Dameon Pierce (574 yards and 13 touchdowns) and leading receiver Jacob Copeland (642 yards and four touchdowns).
Defensively, Florida lost linebacker and leading tackler Mohamoud Diabate (89 tackles). Diabate transferred to Utah, but the Gators still have their second- and third-leading tacklers from 2021 in safeties Trey Dean III and Rashad Torrence II. With Florida playing a ton of difficult opponents, this one could come down to the Gators possessing a 5-6 record and fighting for bowl eligibility. That can be quite a motivator in what will be Florida’s first trip to Tallahassee since 2018.
Prediction: Florida 24, FSU 20
Featured image courtesy of Florida State athletics