I’ve never seen hate like #FSUTwitter hate. It started three weeks ago, when I left Florida State out of my top four two days before the first-ever College Football Playoff rankings came out. I would have gotten less heat if I’d said that I was joining ISIS. Florida State fans are challenging Alabama as the most irrational group of people in America – I’m just trying to figure out if they’re doing it on purpose.
With three weeks left until the official four-team bracket is selected, I would not have Florida State in the Playoff if the season ended today.
Hold on while I barricade my house down.
The way I see it, there are seven teams with a reasonable shot at making the Playoff. Here’s how I would rank them right now:
- Mississippi State
- Florida State
- Ohio State
That’s right – I have the only unbeaten team in a Power Five conference ranked behind five one-loss teams.
Why? In college football, every schedule is not created equally. The difficulty of every conference varies wildly. I don’t give teams more credit or take credit away simply because of a W or an L in a stat column. Wins and losses – on their face – don’t matter all that much to me. I’m way more concerned with the quality of each opponent and how you performed against each one.
For example: TCU lost by three points on the road to Baylor – a consensus top-eight team. Even though it was a loss, it is a more impressive performance than Florida State’s best win – either over a soon-to-be unranked Notre Dame or already-unranked Miami or Louisville, take your pick. TCU also has wins over Kansas State (by 21), Oklahoma (by four), West Virginia (by 1 on the road), and Minnesota (by 23). The Kansas State and Oklahoma wins are without question better than any win Florida State has on its resume. The West Virginia and Minnesota wins are comparable to several of the Seminoles’ best wins. If you ignore the won-loss record and look at how each of these teams has performed this season, TCU has a stronger resume than Florida State. Pretty easily actually.
Pro-FSU supporters will say that because the ‘Noles play in a Power Five conference, they deserve to be included in the Playoff automatically if they run the table. That’s ridiculous. The ACC has never been weaker than it is this year. We’ll never know how good Clemson would have been if Deshaun Watson had been healthy all season (and if he’d started from day one). Georgia Tech and Duke are the next best teams in the ACC after Florida State, and neither of those teams would finish better than fifth in the SEC West. Duke just lost to Virginia Tech! At home!
“Power Five” shouldn’t be synonymous with “quality league.” When you stack up the major conferences against each other, the ACC is a distant fifth. And I mean distant.
Here’s a breakdown of Florida State’s top five victories this season, in chronological order:
Oklahoma State (37-31 on neutral field)
- Record: 5-5
- Notable outcomes: 33-point loss at TCU, 24-point loss to West Virginia, 34-point loss at Kansas State, 21-point loss to Texas
Clemson (23-17 at home without Jameis Winston)
- Record: 7-3
- Notable outcomes: 24-point loss at Georgia, four-point win at Boston College, 22-point loss at Georgia Tech
Notre Dame (31-27 at home)
- Record: 7-3
- Notable outcomes: three-point win vs. Stanford, seven-point win vs. North Carolina, 10-point win vs. Navy, 24-point loss at Arizona State, three-point loss vs. Northwestern
Louisville (42-31 on the road)
- Record: 7-3
- Notable outcomes: two-point loss at Virginia, six-point loss at Clemson
Miami (30-26 on the road)
- Record: 6-4
- Notable outcomes: 18-point loss at Louisville, 10-point loss at Nebraska, 11-point loss at Georgia Tech, 12-point win vs. Duke*
*That Miami win over Duke is the ONLY win this season by a Florida State opponent against a ranked team. That’s right – after Saturday, the teams Florida State has beaten this season are a combined 1-17 against current Top 25 teams.Once Duke exits the rankings on Tuesday, not only will Florida State have 0 wins against Top 25 teams, but neither will any team it’s played this season.
But they only control what they can control right? Sure, their crummy schedule is out of their hands. You know what’s not out of their control? Putting those crummy teams away like a national championship contender should. It would be one thing if they had a close call or two, but that’s not the case. The Seminoles have trailed at halftime FIVE TIMES this season. They have not convincingly won a single game this season against any of their strongest opponents. TCU may have struggled with Kansas, but the Horned Frogs have five other games they can point to where they played like a top–five team. Florida State has none.
If you want a simple explanation why I have five teams ahead of Florida State, it’s because every one of them has multiple performances this season that trump anything the Seminoles can claim.
At their best, Florida State can beat anybody. They know it, too. This team is so arrogant, so relaxed that it has almost cost them nearly a half-dozen times this season. They do not have the heat — or the look — of a champion.
Will the committee ever dare leave them out if they finish 13-0?
No way, right? Right???
- Melvin Gordon
Call me a prisoner of the moment, I don’t care. Gordon is the most dominant player in college football. He just set the FBS record for rushing yards in a game against a top-20 defense. If the Badgers make it to the Big Ten Championship Game, Gordon could head to New York with a 2,500-yard season.
- Marcus Mariota
Mariota is the best quarterback in the country by a wide margin. His 29-2 TD-INT ratio doesn’t even seem fair.
- Dak Prescott
He was picked off three times against Alabama, but he’s still the reason Mississippi State is in contention for the national championship.
- Amari Cooper
Cooper made some ridiculous plays in an eight-catch, 88-yard performance (with a touchdown) against Mississippi State.
- JT Barrett
He’s been so good this season that Braxton Miller might be out of a job next spring. Seriously.
Some other quick takes around the country:
Will Muschamp can start packing his things
Just when you thought there was a sliver of hope for Muschamp’s job at Florida, his fate was sealed when the Gators blew a seven-point lead with three minutes to go against a hapless South Carolina team in Gainesville. A blocked field goal prevented the Gators from taking a 10-point lead, and that was followed by a blocked punt which led to the Gamecocks’ game-tying score at the end of regulation.
What happened to Florida’s offense? Muschamp brought in Kurt Roper this season to solve the Gators woes. After waiting about a month too long to pull the plug on the Jeff Driskel era, the offense is still one-dimensional with Treon Harris under center. The Gators threw just 11 passes on Saturday. Florida can do better than that.
Some names I expect to be in the mix for that job are (in no particular order): Dan Mullen, Kevin Sumlin, Rich Rodriguez, and Chip Kelly.
Weirdest Games of the Year
College football is known for its parity, but man have there been some real head-scratchers this year. Here are the five most inexplicable results of the season:
5) Virginia Tech 35, Ohio State 28
I didn’t rank this one higher because there were enough circumstances surrounding this game where an upset wasn’t all that surprising. JT Barrett’s second career start with a rebuilt offensive line coming against a young and aggressive Bud Foster-led defense is a recipe for disaster, and that’s exactly what happened. This was a case of Virginia Tech catching Ohio State at the perfect time. Even still, after watching what became of the Hokies – and seeing just how good Barrett has become – it’s still hard to believe that the Buckeyes didn’t find a way to win that game.
4) Indiana 31, Missouri 27
Shout out to Missouri for being basically the only ammunition the Big Ten has in any argument comparing itself to the SEC. The Tigers have the inside track to the SEC Championship game, yet somehow fell at home to an Indiana team that is going to need to beat Purdue to avoid an 0-8 finish in the Big Ten.
3) Boston College 37, USC 31
The Eagles ran for 452 yards and five touchdowns in a shocker in prime time. Their next best rushing total against a Power Five team this season? The Eagles have only topped 300 rushing yards one other time this season against a Power Five team (NC State).
2) UCLA 62, Arizona State 27
Arizona State was trotting out a backup quarterback, Mike Bercovici, for his first career start, but UCLA had been a disaster in its first three games. The Bruins barely beat Virginia, Memphis and Texas before boat-racing the Sun Devils in their own building on a Thursday night. The Sun Devils’ loss to Oregon State on Saturday knocks them out of the Playoff hunt, therefore dulling the shock of this outcome a little bit…but at the time it was a truly dumfounding result.
1) Florida 38, Georgia 20
I don’t even know where to begin with Georgia. They’ve throttled the likes of Auburn and Missouri, only to pull absolute stinkers against two of the worst teams in the SEC – Florida and South Carolina. The Florida game is much more stupefying because of how lopsided it turned out to be. The Gators were coming off a 42-13 drubbing to Missouri where the Tigers scored five defensive/special teams touchdowns. The Bulldogs could have possibly survived the SC loss and slid into the Playoff…but this one cost them any shot they had.
PLAY OF THE DAY
If Kansas had somehow beaten TCU it would have defied all logic – like Nigel King’s touchdown catch midway through the third quarter: