Florida State is back! There’s no doubt about it. Need proof? Check the final score to the Clemson game — 51-14. It was the best win by any team this college football season and was the first for FSU at Death Valley since 2001. The blowout launched the Seminoles into the No. 2 spot in the initial BCS Standings.
But are the Noles going to be back in the championship game for the first time since the 2000 season?
Although Florida State is now the first contender in line to challenge No. 1 Alabama, the Seminoles actually do not control their own destiny in terms of reaching the national title game.
Why? Because the team right behind FSU, No. 3 Oregon, will have a much stronger resume come season’s end if both win out. Florida State holds the second spot in the polls by the narrowest of margins, .9348 to .9320, but Oregon holds a huge advantage moving forward in its strength of schedule.
Florida State has just one game left against a ranked opponent, No. 7 Miami, and just three against teams with winning records. But that number could drop to one, as Wake Forest (4-3) and Florida (4-3) could soon slip below .500.
Oregon, on the other hand, plays teams with winning records in every one of its final five games. Three of those teams are ranked — No. 12 UCLA, No. 6 Stanford and No. 25 Oregon State. And the Beavers could easily be ranked even higher by the time the Civil War comes around. Then Oregon could also have a second game against the Bruins in the Pac 12 title game, which would be a fourth against a ranked opponent.
The Noles would also have the ACC Championship Game, likely against No. 14 Virginia Tech or a rematch with the Hurricanes. But that would only make two remaining games against a ranked opponent, and neither scenario would likely do enough to help the Noles leap an undefeated Oregon.
In the end, it may be the Ducks’ strength of schedule that ultimately helps Florida State into the BCS title game. It won’t be easy for Oregon to escape the regular season without a loss. And if one of those Pac 12 teams left on its schedule does knock off the Ducks, the Seminoles would be a shoo-in to play for the championship — assuming they win out, of course.
For the Seminoles to make it into the Jan. 6 BCS title game, they will need Oregon to lose or both the Crimson Tide and Tigers to drop a game. Because ultimately, FSU’s resume just won’t be strong enough in the end to overtake any of those three teams.