Who is great in college football? Mississippi State? The Bulldogs are allowing 460 yards/game against teams from the power five conferences. Alabama? The Tide is playing excellent defense, but doesn't have a quarterback. Oregon? The Ducks are rolling on offense, but the defense is suspect and the Ducks are continuing to lose guys to injury. TCU? The Horned Frogs are playing really good football, but also gave up 61 points to Baylor a month ago Tuesday. Baylor? The Bears housed Oklahoma over the weekend in Norman, but also lost 41-27 to West Virginia three weeks ago. Arizona State? The Sun Devils just beat down Notre Dame thanks to five turnovers, but they also lost by five touchdowns to UCLA. At home. Ohio State? The Buckeyes took it to Michigan State in East Lansing, but they also lost to a terrible Virginia Tech team and needed overtime to beat a very iffy Penn State squad.
The point in this? Florida State is not a great team. Nobody else is, either. How many teams that didn't win a title from a previous year would be considered the clear-cut favorite in 2014? This is a very strange year in college football. It's like 2007 (in which LSU won the title with two losses), but without the huge number of two- and three-loss teams.
The losses may come, of course. Florida State, by the Vegas line, is just slightly better than a coin flip this weekend at Miami. Mississippi State is a touchdown underdog at Alabama this weekend, and will likely be no better than a coin flip finishing the year at Oxford.
The chances that both FSU and Mississippi State are undefeated after this weekend? About 18 percent, according to the Vegas odds. The chance both lose? About 32 percent.
The last time there were no undefeated major teams by Week 13? I'm not sure. ESPN goes back to 2002, and it certainly didn't happen in the previous 12 seasons.
And in a year like this, any team that manages to punch its ticket to the dance, is going to have a justified belief that it can be a national champion, because there's no element of "yeah, they got there, but they have no shot at ... ." Every team in the top 10 or so could beat any other team in that group, and also lose, without anyone really batting an eye.
I've been saying it for a few weeks, and it keeps holding true ...
Another week of CFB gone, and I become more convinced there are no great teams so far. A lot of very good, but everyone with clear flaw(s).— TomahawkNation.com (@TomahawkNation) November 2, 2014
Who will best use the time off?
It also makes me wonder about where teams can get better over the month off once they punch their ticket. One obvious way is by getting players back from injury. FSU definitely fits in this category, it if manages to make it.
This team seems like a cartoon in which as one leak plugs, another springs up. The Seminoles had to replace an NFL nose guard (and an NFL backup), but also NFL linebackers (plural) and an NFL center, NFL receivers, and NFL safeties.
In some areas, like at receiver and safety, they've done fairly well. But up the middle, the players who were expected to replace the players at nose, center and linebacker are either out with injury or severely limited with such.
Florida State could certainly use center Austin Barron (fractured arm), and may get him back in a few weeks. But the Seminoles aren't likely to get back its starting nose guard -- a loss that left a big hole in the defense.
"Losing Nile [Lawrence-Stample, starting NG] was a huge blow for us," Jimbo Fisher said Monday. "He was playing extremely well."
FSU's two most talented linebackers -- Terrance Smith and Matthew Thomas, are both hampered with injuries (leg, leg and shoulder), and there have been games in which FSU was without seven of its nine scholarship linebackers.
Every scholarship running back has missed time with injury, Jameis Winston has struggled with ankle and thumb injuries, receiver Rashad Greene continues to play well through a recurring turf toe, while left tackle Cam Erving has battled knee and elbow issues, right guard Tre' Jackson has battled a knee issue, and right tackle Bobby Hart has missed practice time with an undisclosed injury.
On elsewhere on defense, end Mario Edwards, Jr. has missed games with a concussion and a knee injury, nose Derrick Mitchell missed games with a knee injury, tackle Eddie Goldman with an ankle injury, end Chris Casher with a shoulder, Corners Ronald Darby and P.J. Williams have been plagued with hamstring issues.
That's not to mention injuries to reserves. Through it all, FSU remains undefeated. Another challenge this weekend awaits in Miami.
But other teams could use the time off to regroup, as well, not just the Seminoles.
Oregon certainly could use some time to have its center heal up, and some other linemen as well.
And some teams, like Alabama, could use more weeks of practice for their struggling quarterbacks.
It's interesting to see the lack of quality QB play this year from the teams that have the elite defenses. The best defenses in the country, like Alabama, Ole Miss, Clemson, Louisville, all have been victims of either wildly inconsistent QB play, injuries at the QB position, or simply poor play.