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College football top 25 countdown: No. 14 Florida State

Even former coach Bobby Bowden, who hasn't attended a Seminoles game since being forced out after the 2009 season, is coming around to watch a young but highly talented team.

August 14, 2013|Chris Dufresne
  • Florida State quarterback Jacob Coker (14) attempts a pass as he is pressured by linebacker Telvin Smith (22) during a practice earlier this month.
Florida State quarterback Jacob Coker (14) attempts a pass as he is pressured… (Phil Sears / Associated…)

There will be plenty of fresh faces at Florida State games this season and one very old one.

After years of irreconcilable differences, former coach Bobby Bowden has agreed to be honored at the football kingdom he built from scratch in the 1970s.

Bowden, after 33 years, was pushed out after the 2009 season and hasn't attended a game since.

He said he wanted to stay behind the scenes to let Jimbo Fisher develop the program, but there was no denying a lingering bitterness.

That ends this year when Bowden returns for "Bobby Bowden Day" on Oct. 26 against North Carolina State and then again Nov. 17 versus Syracuse as part of the 20-year anniversary tribute to the 1993 national title team.

Bowden also won a national title in 1999 and dominated the Atlantic Coast Conference from the moment Florida State joined in 1992. His 389 victories rank first among major-college coaches.

It's nice to see both sides have agreed to bury the spear.

Bowden will see a team he would have loved to coach, very young but very talented.

He wouldn't like the way they rush quarterbacks to the lineup these days as Bowden always preferred third-year juniors.

With EJ Manuel off to the NFL, however, Florida State will be youngest where it counts most, the only reason the Seminoles aren't ranked higher.

That doesn't mean Florida State can't be good. There has been a growing buzz about redshirt freshman Jameis Winston since he dazzled everyone in the spring game.

Some are suggesting Winston could repeat Johnny Manziel's out-of-nowhere feat of winning the Heisman Trophy as a freshman.

Winston has a similar pass-run tool kit although he is taller (6 feet 4) and bigger (227 pounds) than Texas A&M's superstar and serial autograph signer.

Winston has the personality to attract voters with his love for cheese balls and distaste for boorish behavior.

"If I ever get Manziel disease, I want all of you to smack me in the head with your microphones," Winston said at media day.

Winston hasn't even won the starting job yet as he battles it out with Jacob Coker, but he already has brightened up Tallahassee.

Florida State, technically, has a lot of holes to fill with only 10 returning starters. The Seminoles lost 11 players to the NFL, including three first-round choices.

No one, though, is taking up a collection only one season after the Seminoles won 12 games and wrecked Northern Illinois' Bowl Championship Series-buster dreams in the Orange Bowl.

The Seminoles are well-stocked at nearly every position. In Phil Steele's national unit rankings, Florida State ranks No. 2 at receiver, No. 4 at offensive line and defensive back, No. 8 at defensive line and linebacker and No.1 on special teams.

Plenty of "non-starters" from last season logged plenty of playing time.

For only the second time since 1992, though, Florida State was not chosen to win at least a share of the Atlantic Division. The season will likely come down to the huge ACC showdown at Clemson on Oct. 19. The home team has won the last six games in the series and Florida State hasn't won in Death Valley since 2001.

The other big games are home against Miami (Nov. 2) and at Florida (Nov. 30).

Twitter: @DufresneLATimes

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