Despite optimism from Florida State Athletic Director David Coburn just the other day, the Seminoles and Gators will not face each other on the gridiron this year. The ACC stated on Wednesday that it would be open to adding an in-state, non-conference game to its new 10-game conference schedule, but the SEC has opted for a conference-only slate.
So UF won't be making the brief two-hour trip to Tallahassee this year. Clemson isn't going to host South Carolina. Kentucky has opted out of its short journey to Louisville. And Georgia Tech's quick sojourn to Georgia is off the books.
Earlier this month, I wrote about how these in-state, non-conference rivalries actually made the most sense to play, but that's not going to happen. And now the Sunshine State Showdown, one of college football's greatest rivalries, won't be played for the first time since 1957.
So where do the 'Noles go from here? Which school should fill that in-state, non-conference role? Since the ACC juggled its schedule and handed FSU the toughest conference schedule, I'd suggest the Seminoles go light here. Between Clemson, Notre Dame, North Carolina, and Miami, FSU has enough meat on the bone of its schedule. After two straight losing seasons, and under yet another new coaching staff, this program and its players need to re-familiarize themselves with something that was once synonymous with Seminole football: winning.
However, schools like FAMU and Bethune-Cookman aren't playing football this fall, and while a bigger-name like UCF will be bandied about as a sexy option, adding the Knights would mean another top-20 preseason SP+ squad to FSU's schedule. USF, FIU, or a reunion with former head coach Willie Taggart's FAU Owls would be better options.
There's no shame in this strategy. Every premier program schedules cupcakes, and for good reason. Injuries happen. Adjustments must be made. And since the ACC stripped FSU of its easiest games, the program would certainly not lose face by adding one for its lone non-con matchup.