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Top 25 countdown

Times Staff Writer

The Times’ Chris Dufresne unveils his preseason college football top 25, one day (and team) at a time:

No. 22 Florida State

Go ahead, spit out your dadgum coffee.

We know. We get it. Florida State is last century’s news, “That ‘90s Show.”

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But can’t a guy get nostalgic? Pine for Deion days? Sweat to the oldies?

Bobby Bowden’s boys once went 14 straight years with top-five finishes in the final Associated Press poll, but many now believe the Seminoles are just finished.

Consecutive 7-6 seasons and more head-scratching than a Florida election lead to this kind of thinking, especially considering Florida State lost only 13 games in the 1990s.

More trend spotting: Last April, Tallahassee Tech had no players taken on the first day of the NFL draft and only three players chosen overall.

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That Florida stated, we’d like to think Bowden, who turns 79 in November, can turn back the play clock one last time, the way Penn State Coach Joe Paterno did when people said he should retire before he answered with an 11-1 season in 2005.

Reality is a complicating factor. Florida State doesn’t play Duke this season. The Seminoles will also be without, for the first three games, seven starters suspended in connection with academic fraud.

Preston Parker, the team’s star receiver, was the first to have his team picture taken. Unfortunately, it was a mug shot, following his arrest on gun possession and drug charges. He’s been scratched for the first two games.

The school also has an Oct. 18 meeting with the NCAA to discuss infractions.

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So what’s to celebrate?

Drew Weatherford is back at quarterback.

OK, then, how about this: Those first two games are against Western Carolina (ding) and Chattanooga (double ding).

Florida State plays nine of its 12 games in Florida. It doesn’t leave the Sunshine State until Oct. 16. The toughest road game is at Georgia Tech. And winning the Atlantic Coast Conference is not exactly as tough as, say, enriching uranium. In fact, the only ACC team ever to win a Bowl Championship Series bowl game was Florida State in 2000.

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Bowden is getting older, not dumber. Mickey Andrews is still the defensive coordinator.

Expect the Seminoles, for a change, to get coordinated.

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The countdown so far: No. 25. Notre Dame; 24. California; 23. Fresno State; 22. Florida State.

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chris.dufresne@latimes.com


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