Ranking Power-5 Opponents FSU Has Never Played

Mike Settle

Here we are: list season is upon us yet again. Florida State has now had two different head football coaches that preached that their team would play anybody, anywhere. And throughout the history of FSU football, that’s been pretty accurate. However, some programs have fallen through the cracks. The ‘Noles have played most P5 schools, but here are the 17 power-five conference teams, ranked from most desirable to least, that the Seminoles haven't faced. 

Let’s state here that I’m judging this primarily on the premise of a road game. Every game at Doak Campbell Stadium is great but these return trips need to be worth it for all involved. Let’s get started.

1. Texas 

This one is pretty simple, right? A trip to Austin can never be a bad thing. Not just a great college town but a great town in general. A cultural hotbed and any foodie’s dream land. Not to mention, it’s FREAKING TEXAS. The white helmet and burnt orange going against the spear? Two iconic brands (wink and nod to Coach Norvell) under the lights at DK Royal? Sign me up.

2. Washington  

So, 10 years ago this one would probably be a little lower. But stadium renovations and a resurgence of prominence makes this matchup really intriguing. Two gold helmets isn’t my favorite thing, but the purple vs. the white jersey with garnet trim should make any uniform junky smile. The cherry on top is getting to visit Seattle. An underrated city with a long history of art, culture, and music including this author's personal favorite: grunge. I’m locked in on a Huskies-‘Noles match up. Oh and the stadium is right on a lake, worth a mention.

3. Stanford

Silicon Valley, beautiful mountains, a dancing tree on the sidelines and there’s a chance you would have just as many fans in the stadium as the Cardinal would. Palo Alto is a city that I’m unfamiliar with, but the surrounding areas make up for it. Outside of 2019, Stanford’s program has been worthy of this game being a headlining matchup and if FSU happens to lose this game, it can blame it on the body clock. It’s a win-win for all involved.

4. Utah

Alright let’s knock out another Pac-12 trip while we’re already here. This game would need to be played under certain circumstances to intrigue me. The tailgating rules seem to be a little more loose than another school within the state, so traveling ‘Noles can have a good time. A day game at Rice-Eccles Stadium doesn’t move the needle too much, but a night game? That should get the juices flowing. Utah has been the same program since 2005 as far as who they are and what they do, so it would be fun to use this game as a measuring stick. 

5. Arkansas

Okay so this is one that’s less about the city, and that’s no offense to the fine people of Fayetteville, but more about the atmosphere. You have the potential to go on the road and get a win against an SEC West opponent, no matter how middling this one is. The crowd is a huge factor here as well, as most SEC crowds are loud, and that makes it more enjoyable if you’re visiting. And there’s no shortage of really good barbecue if you’re into that kind of thing. 

6. Iowa

FSU has played the majority of Big Ten opponents that matter in the big picture of college football but we’ve never played the Hawkeyes. This game on paper doesn’t scream “Let’s make a road trip,” and there’s not too much that’s exciting about the program itself, but everyone there would get to wave at the Children’s hospital that overlooks the stadium. That gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. That alone makes this game worth it.

7. Arizona

FSU has played the Wildcats' in-state rival several times now but never made the trip to Tucson before. Speaking of Tucson, it’s an underrated college town. There’s a lot to do, and if this is lucky enough to be a night game you’ll get a very rowdy crowd and student section. Another plus is that the uniform clash intrigues me and of course, cacti. Lots of cacti.

Let the record show that after the first seven opponents, I had to reach quite a bit. FSU really has played most teams of consequence before. 

8. Missouri 

This is basically here because it’s an SEC game and you can get good barbecue. You can also visit the surrounding areas like St. Louis and Kansas City. Make a really fun week long trip out of this one. As far as on the field, a night game here has some interest. They’ve done a good job making it have that SEC-like feel on game day, so you’ll get that, and I’m personally a fan of this uniform combo. 

9. California 

Kind of like the Stanford explanation, this game is all about the back drop. You get beautiful California weather and you have the chance for a power-five win, so there’s not much negative to this trip besides the brand of football that the Bears play. 

10. Northwestern 

The game itself? Not thrilling in anyway. Even though Pat Fitzgerald has the program in a respectable place, the stadium atmosphere will lull you to sleep. However, you are right by one of America’s greatest cities, Chicago. It’s a short trip and that’s what the weekend should revolve around. Go see the Cubs, Bears and hit the tourist spots if you’ve never been. Lake Michigan isn't a bad bonus.

11. Vanderbilt 

Everything I just wrote about Northwestern, you could rinse and repeat right here. Boring program and boring game-day atmosphere, but you get to visit Nashville. Plan ahead, you’ll get to live on music row for a few days if you’re into that scene, and you’ll eat some of the best fried chicken you’ve ever had. Bring stretchy pants with you.

12. Minnesota 

This game would be lower if it took place late in the season because sitting out in that weather isn’t the preference of most FSU fans, but let’s pretend it’s early in September. You have two young energetic head coaches on the sidelines and one of the more underrated atmospheres in college football. The uniforms would be oil and water, but we can ignore that for four hours. Take the time to visit Minneapolis as well. 

13. Purdue

We are reaching deep into the bag here, but the Boilermakers provide a cool and traditional gameday atmosphere accompanied by a giant drum. It would also be fun for this game to take place during the Jeff Brohm tenure. I’m just happy it’s not this season because covering Rondale Moore is a defensive coordinator’s nightmare.

14. Oregon State

Great mascot, hands down one of the coolest nicknames in all of FBS. The northwest is always beautiful, and I love the uniform combination this creates. The positives end there though. Outside of some special seasons under Mike Reilly, this program hasn’t done anything to make me demand to see this game. Also, Corvallis is in the middle of nowhere. Speaking of the middle of nowhere...

15. Washington State 

Okay so think about everything I said when it came to Seattle and the University of Washington. Now, step on an airplane and come with me to opposite land where our next stop is Pullman. In the middle of nowhere and hard to get to with a ton of rain doesn’t exactly scream matchup I’m itching to see. Without Mike Leach, this game takes an even bigger hit, even though I’m a fan of Nick Rolovich. Bad uniform combination, too.

16. Illinois 

Is there anything to do in Urbana-Champaign? Doesn’t seem like it. The university is nowhere near the Windy City and the Illini haven’t been the winningest program the last 50 or so seasons. Now that Lovie Smith has shaved his beard, this game loses its luster. 

17. Rutgers 

I could take the route of the cliche “it’s Rutgers” and leave it at that, but allow me to class it up a bit. If you squint hard enough, you can convince yourself it’s close to New York City. That’s a trip you should go out of your way to make, and the night game atmosphere is pretty good when a big name comes to town. But, that’s it. This is still Rutgers and you still have to spend time in Piscataway. A quick Google search tells me there’s good pizza so hey, that’s something. 

A nod to our sister site covering Michigan, which originated this idea.

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