New FSU head coach Mike Norvell faces a challenging schedule in his first season in Tallahassee.

Now that the ACC has finally released the full football schedules for 2020, here are five thoughts on how things shook out for Florida State and Miami in the ACC.

The Mike Norvell era begins with a tough start

FSU opens in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium against West Virginia, which should get a bump in Year 2 under coach Neal Brown. After a cupcake (Samford), the Seminoles travel to Boise State (which knocked them off last year in Tallahassee). Then, after an open date, FSU goes to North Carolina (where the Seminoles historically struggle) before hosting superpower Clemson. That’s four losable matchups in the first five games — not the kind of soft open a new coach might want.

Syracuse is a trap

Assuming the Orange improves from last year’s 5-7 dud, FSU’s Nov. 19 game at Syracuse feels like a trap. The ’Noles have a short week to prepare for a road game in a tough venue where weird things happen, like the air conditioning going out of a dome named after an HVAC company (Carrier) in FSU’s 23-point blowout loss two years ago.

I’m excited for the Manny Diaz Bowl

Remember how Diaz spent 18 glorious days as Temple’s head coach in December 2018 before returning to Miami to replace the suddenly outgoing Mark Richt? You can bet that the Owls haven’t forgotten, which makes Miami’s Sept. 5 opener against Temple a much more enticing matchup than it appears on paper. Speaking of which …

Miami’s non-conference schedule is harder than it looks

Except for Wagner, of course. Temple has averaged 8.6 wins in the past five seasons and will be motivated to play Diaz and defensive end Quincy Roche, the reigning AAC Defensive Player of the Year who transferred from Temple to Miami earlier this week. UAB is 20-8 over the past two years, and Miami has lost two in a row to Conference USA teams. And Michigan State is a marquee matchup on the road. Even if the non-conference slate lacks brand recognition, it has some potential pitfalls for Miami.

Circle Nov. 7 on your calendar

That’s when Miami hosts Florida State. If things go south early for the ’Canes (which is possible), an early November game against a new coach leading their in-state ACC rival could become a final referendum for their embattled second-year coach. Sound familiar? It’s the exact same formula that led to Willie Taggart’s firing from FSU last season.

Two other thoughts on the ACC in general: Clemson could be in for a third consecutive undefeated regular season and watch out for North Carolina for the Coastal Division crown.


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