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Six games that could potentially knock Florida State out of the top 10

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Florida State’s Seminoles aren’t as high in the poll rankings as usual, and certainly, they aren’t as high as their fans would like.

To some, however, Jimbo Fisher’s FSU  team is overrated. It will be the task of the Seminoles to prove that isn’t true.

ESPN analyst Paul Finebaum, for instance, is among those who believes FSU is resting on its reputation. He recently criticized FSU, saying the team has “no business” in the top 10, largely because he’s not impressed with transfer quarterback Everett Golson.

But is Finebaum right? The graduation of Jameis Winston and the suspension of Dalvin Cook have left the Seminoles seeking their offensive identity. The ACC seems more open than it has been.

Also, there is this. FSU remains the highest-ranked team of any it plays this season. So if the Seminoles win each Saturday, the top 10 ranking will take care of itself.

Still, there are losable games for the Semioles on the schedule. A glance at the biggest trap games ahead:

Oct. 10, Miami (unranked): Don’t forget: this is a rivalry game. And Miami, for once, has the more accomplished quarterback in Brad Kaaya. The Seminoles won only by four points last year. It will be the first real early-season test for FSU: Danger meter: Some.

Oct. 17, Louisville (unranked): The Cardinals won nine games in their first season in the ACC last year. With a good roster, they may do it again. Like FSU, however, they have to decide on a quarterback before they can bring back an upset from Tallahassee. Danger meter: Some.

Oct. 24 at Georgia Tech (17): In its worst seasons, Tech is a headache to play against with its option-oriented offense. Quarterback Justin Thomas led the Yellow Jackets, who won 11 games last year. By now, FSU should have found new playmakers, or blood could be in the water. Danger meter: Significant.

Nov. 7 at Clemson (12): Somehow, quarterback Sean McGuire got the Seminoles past the Tigers last season. This time, with the game in Clemson, it will be more difficult. Clemson has won 10 games or more for four straight seasons. With quarterback Deshaun Watson, the Tigers should do it again. Danger meter: Overwhelming.

Nov. 14 N.C. State (unranked): Some schools just seem to give other schools grief. It’s that way with N.C. State. With quarterback Jacoby Brissett, the old Florida transfer, the Seminoles’ defense will be tested. Seven starters return on defense: Upset factor. Significant.

Nov. 27 at Florida (unranked): Another rivalry game. By this time, whoever Florida’s quarterback is will have a full season under his belt, and Jim McElwain’s offense should be starting to click. The Gators have a solid defense, especially in the secondary. Upset factor: Significant.

Lose one game, and FSU would still be ranked fairly high. Lose two, and they’re still OK. But lose three and you’re taking your chances. Three top 10 teams lost three, but a three-loss team also finished 25th.

Don’t lose any?

Then the announcers start to backtrack.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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