Top 25 playoff teams: Florida State

With a ton of talent and Winston returning, Seminoles should make playoff

Updated: July 16, 2014, 4:34 PM ET
By Rod Gilmore | ESPN Insider

Jameis WinstonStephen Dunn/Getty ImagesJameis Winston and the Seminoles will have a different gauntlet to run to repeat as champions.

From May 27 to July 3, Insider's college football experts will preview the season for the 25 teams with the best chance to make the inaugural College Football Playoff, based on Brian Fremeau's post-spring projections. This is the entry for the Florida State Seminoles.

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Fremeau's projection

Projected finish: 11-1 (7-1 ACC)
Chance to make playoff: 73 percent
Chance to win ACC: 69 percent
Toughest games: Aug. 30 vs. Oklahoma State (74 percent chance of winning), Oct. 18 vs. Notre Dame (84 percent), Oct. 30 at Louisville (74 percent)


Why they will make the playoff

1. Jameis Winston

Nothing seems to bother Winston, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. Despite being a redshirt freshman QB with some off-field issues, he  performed at a high level in his first season. And that is a major reason why Florida State will be one of four teams to make the College Football Playoff.

Winston burst on the scene in his first game by completing 25 of 27 passes and tossing four touchdowns in a nationally televised game vs Pitt. He finished the year with 40 TD passes and only 10 interceptions, was the first redshirt freshman to win ACC Player of the Year and was the second redshirt freshman to win the Heisman (and the youngest ever).

The day before a game I called early last season, I saw Winston and head coach Jimbo Fisher reviewing the 15 plays the Seminoles script to start a game. Winston had no notebook and took no notes. He recited the plays and various situations as if he had a photographic memory. Not many quarterbacks can do that.

How good can Winston be this year? Better than he was last year, since most college quarterbacks make their biggest jump in their second season. Winston certainly believes it -- he's taken out a $10 million insurance policy to protect himself. So don't expect a drop-off in his play.

2. FSU is the most talented team in the country

Rod Gilmore

College Football analyst
Rod Gilmore serves as an ESPN studio analyst on SportsCenter and College Football Live, and provides commentary on ESPN's Friday night game telecasts. He writes regularly for ESPN Insider.