1. Stifle a growing reputation as a perennial underachiever. This is why the Noles must win by at least two TDs. No sleepwalking and waking up in the third quarter. No cliffhangers or nailbiters. Anything less than a decisive win is a backwards step.
2. Prove that FSU’s offense has a pulse. After averaging 525 yards per game and 45 points for the first nine contests, the Noles managed 334 ypg and 29 points per in the last four.
3. Recruiting. All those four and five star targets will be watching, especially the ones trying to decide between the Noles and other top programs.
4. Avoid embarrassment bordering on ridicule. Lose this one and the Noles are like Clemson after being humiliated by West Virginia last year: The laughing stock of the bowl season.
5. Send the seniors out on a high note. One in particular, whose initials are EJ, can help the cause by playing his most complete game of the year.
6. Enhance the prospects of Noles going in the draft. The irony is, the better guys like Werner, Rhodes and Joyner play the better the chance they’ll be heading to the NFL Combine in February.
7. Create momentum going into 2013. Nothing like a big bowl win to inject confidence into a program facing a year full of question marks.
8. Keep Jimbo off the hot seat. Okay, a loss wouldn’t exactly turn his chair into a stovetop, but it would definitely move him a giant step closer.
9. League pride. Sure, lots of Nole fans aren’t exactly proud about being in the ACC. But wouldn’t it be a shame if this year’s conference champ can’t manage to win the biggest mismatch of all the 2012 bowls?
10. First 12 win season since 1999. Years from now it’s the feel-good way we’ll remember 2012.