Rankings Reaction: The Noles land at number 4 in the initial CFP poll

When the initial College Football Playoff rankings dropped on Halloween night, I think most FSU fans were just hoping for a treat with no tricks involved. Thankfully, we saw our Seminoles make the top 4 for the first time since 2014. We had discussed on our rankings preview that it was more important to be IN the top 4 rather than where.

The reason is because you are not fighting to get in. Instead, you just have to hold onto your existing spot, especially knowing that two of the top four teams still have to play. With only five undefeated teams in the running, it would appear that FSU should control its destiny once that whittles down to four.

Honestly, I am just happy to be back in the conversation after all these years, especially knowing FSU just needs to win out, and they should be in. With that being said, after a night to think about it, did the committee get it right? Here is why I say yes… and no.

2023 CFP rankings graphic

When the CFP chairman spoke after the release, he said that the reason Ohio State was at number one was their body of work. To be fair, in our preview, I had them at number one as well if we ONLY go from what teams have done in 2023. While I admit that I don’t think OSU is the best team in college football, and neither does Kirk Herbstreit, they have the two best wins. (vs current #11 Penn St. & #15 Notre Dame)

However, what happened after that did not make much sense. The committee put UGA at number two, which has one ranked win this season over #20 Kentucky. Personally, I do not believe Kentucky should have been ranked anyway, and they are not anywhere near being ranked now.

What I also found interesting is when the chairman talked about Georgia, he mentioned their dominant wins over Kentucky (5-3) and Florida (5-3) but never mentioned struggling against 4-4 Auburn or 2-6 South Carolina. However, when talking about FSU, of course, the BC (5-3) game came up. Since that game, FSU has beaten their last 5 opponents, who are all at least .500 or better, by a score of 190-80. Yet, that BC game still seems to haunt them.

Looking at FSU’s resume, they have the only other win of the top 4 (besides OSU) over a currently ranked CFP opponent, which we know was a blowout win over current #14 LSU. They also have more Power 5 wins than any other team in the top 4, the second-highest strength of schedule rating, and strength of record. (behind OSU). Here is what those numbers currently look like.

2023 Strength of schedule ranking

2023 Strength of record ranking

FSU had had two close games this season. The Clemson win has obviously been diminished, but FSU is still the only team to beat Clemson in Death Valley this season. Outside of Michigan, which has not played anyone, every other undefeated team has had unimpressive games. So, it would seem that based on body of work, which is why OSU was put at number 1, FSU would be at 2, right? Well, they are down at number 4.

If we just went on the eye test, which is big for the committee, fine, give it to Michigan. They have looked the most dominant while blowing out a bunch of average to blow-average teams, and cheating to do so. As far as the committee is concerned, that is an NCAA issue, not a CFP issue. I understand that mindset because technically sign stealing is not illegal, but isn’t this why we have a committee of humans and not computers? The last team that knew Michigan was cheating, besides Michigan State who might want to start cheating, was TCU, who beat Michigan before getting dismantled against UGA in the title game, so it obviously makes a difference.

The chairman mentioned OSU having offensive weapons like Marvin Harrison Jr and a top 5 defense. Now, I am not throwing any shade at something that is true, but have you ever heard of Keon Coleman or maybe Johnny Wilson or the Heisman contenter throwing them the ball? The Ohio State offense has scored over 30 points in 4 of their 8 games this season. FSU is on a 14-game streak of scoring over 30 points per game, the longest in the country. Their defense also held the number 1 offense in the country (LSU) to 17 non-garbage time points. The Tigers have scored at least 34 points in every other game.

My point is that if you go off the resume, FSU should be 2. If you go off the eye test, they should be at least 3. Georgia clearly gets the benefit of the doubt for being a defending two-time national champion because their resume is not great at the moment, at least not better than Florida State’s. Although that had nothing to do with what has happened in 2023, that credit is kind of hard to argue with. But it makes their reasoning inconsistent, to say the least.

Even when they did a resume comparison, there were only three teams on the graphic!!! I’m not necessarily an anti-ESPN conspiracy theorist, but why would you not have 4 teams in a graphic for a 4 team playoff???

cfp rankings graphic on espn without FSU included

During the rankings show, Ohio State Alum Kirk Herbstreit said he did not agree that OSU was the best team in the country and Booger McFarland said he thought FSU was the best team in college football.

Here is what it all boils down to. FSU must win out. Frontloading their schedule was a blessing and a curse for the Noles. On the one hand, apparently, blowing LSU out doesn’t count like beating Rutgers, so FSU might want to rethink the upcoming series with Bama and Georgia. However, that tough opening slate got them into the top 4, and now they have the easiest path to playoffs.

Outside of the ACCCG, it is unlikely that any of FSU’s remaining opponents will be ranked. Every other team in contention currently has at least one or more ranked opponent left in the regular season.

This means there is no room for error for the Noles, but as we mentioned earlier, you already made it into the top 4, so now you just have to hold on and win out. Of course, adding style points won’t hurt, nor would facing a ranked Louisville team in the ACCCG, but you feel good about where FSU sits.

The fun thing about November football is that things can change in any given week. If Clemson were to beat Notre Dame in Death Valley on Saturday, your win now looks better. If LSU beats Bama on Saturday, your resume continues to strengthen.

UGA has to play three consecutive ranked teams, potentially all without their best player, Brock Bowers. Michigan has to beat Penn State and Ohio State without cheating, and Washington, will potentially have to beat three ranked teams and #6 Oregon for a second time in the Pac 12 championship game.

So, while I don’t necessarily agree with the seeding, it really doesn’t matter because if the Noles take care of business week after week, they will be where they need to be when the time comes. It all starts with Pitt this Saturday, which, with a win, locks the Noles into a spot in the ACC championship game for the first time in eight years. I’m just happy we are back to being disrespected by the committee again because it feels like old times. Game control will probably even make a comeback faster than Miami. Until next time, thanks for reading, and Go Noles!

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