With the release of the updated College Football Playoff Rankings, FSU remains at No. 3 where they rightfully belong. As the reigning National Champions in college football, Florida State’s strength as a repeat contender and difficulty of schedule have often been brought into question throughout the 2014 season. Despite remaining undefeated going into the final week of the regular season, the Seminoles have narrowly escaped victorious in many games which should or could have been an easy win. The nature of their wins and little demonstration of their abilities as a dominant team amongst their conference and the NCAA as a whole is exactly why FSU has not earned a number one spot in the College Football Playoff Rankings, despite regaining No. 1 in the AP Poll. Additionally, conduct issues with star quarterback and Heisman trophy winner Jameis Winston, as well as several other players, have cast a generally negative light on the team as a whole, bringing significant media attention. While the AP rankings have generally been the most important factor in reaching the National Championship game, the Playoff Rankings are what really matter this year with the first year of the Playoff system in effect.
This weekend Florida State matches up against in-state rival Florida Gators at home in Tallahassee. The Seminoles have a lot to prove in their first and only SEC game. Although Florida has been labeled one of the weaker teams in the powerhouse conference, they have won four of their SEC games, most notably upsetting the No. 9 Georgia Bulldogs. Two of their four conference losses came with only a three-point deficit, one of which was an overtime game against South Carolina. Unranked Florida could certainly pose more of a challenge against FSU than they are given credit for, and they will also be chasing bowl eligibility in their final opportunity for a seventh win.
The Seminoles average about 35 points per game after playing 11 games, which is generally unimpressive for a team vying to win a repeat national title. Their average victory margin is also only about 13 points, even more mediocre when considering the teams Florida State has taken on so far this season. Of the 11 opponents they have played so far this season, only two are still ranked heading into the final week of regular season games—No. 21 Clemson, and No. 22 Louisville.
In September, FSU narrowly beat Clemson by six points in overtime (Winston notably sat this game for yelling profanities in a high traffic area on campus), and only came back in the second half at Louisville to scrape a 42-31 win.
Additionally, their October 18 victory over the Fighting Irish, who have managed to slip from the top 10 to now being unranked, came in a controversial holding call against Notre Dame in the final 13 seconds of the game, taking back what would have been their game-winning touchdown. A four point win against Miami and last week’s three point win at home against Boston College only further prove the Seminoles are not even comparable to last year’s National Championship team.
*Section Photo credit to Stacy Revere, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Melina Vastola, USA Today Sports