Every week we take a look at what results from across the country Florida State football fans should root for. With Florida State suffering its first loss of the 2015 season last week, FSU fans are divided as to whether or not FSU remains a fringe playoff threat. Fortunately, regardless of whether fans believe the 'Noles can still make the College Football Playoff in 2015 or if they believe expectations should be adjusted to more reasonable outcomes, the desired results this week line up under both schools of thought. For this week, FSU fans should root for outcomes that get the 'Noles into a better playoff position and simultaneously move the 'Noles up in the polls, because the first College Football Playoff committee poll is released on Tuesday and FSU will face Clemson for the ACC Atlantic crown next Saturday. With that disclaimer, let's get right into Saturday's matchups. The games are organized by conference.
Georgia Tech at Virginia: Georgia Tech. Unfortunately, dropping that game to Georgia Tech last week means that FSU needs Georgia Tech to finish relatively well for the sake of the 'Noles' SOS. The Jackets can still finish the year with a winning record, and they'll close the regular season at home against Georgia.
#3 Clemson at NC State: Clemson. Regardless of whether FSU fans think the 'Noles can still make the playoff or not, FSU fans should root for Clemson to survive NC State on Saturday. If you think the 'Noles can still make the playoff, FSU will need a big win over a Top 3 team next Saturday on its resume to be squarely back in the playoff hunt. If you think the 'Noles aren't a playoff team, but should concentrate on winning the Atlantic and the ACC, it's still okay to root for Clemson to survive on Saturday because that goal will still require FSU to beat Clemson next week regardless. If FSU upsets Clemson next Saturday, and both teams finish the ACC regular season with 1 ACC loss, FSU still wins the Atlantic Division via the head-to-head victory over Clemson, would play for the ACC title and would notch a big Top 3 win that would (hopefully) shoot FSU up the polls. A Clemson loss to NC State the week before playing Florida State would theoretically give FSU a cushion in the Atlantic were the 'Noles to beat Clemson, but that's not necessary to win the Atlantic and would probably hurt FSU, FSU's SOS, and the ACC's playoff chances and perception more than it helps. Every goal FSU has left, whether that's a playoff berth or an ACC title, hinges on the outcome of the Clemson game. If FSU loses to Clemson next week, both outcomes are likely over. It is in FSU's best interests to have Clemson enter next week's game undefeated.
Miami (FL) at #22 Duke: Duke. A Miami (FL) win might slightly help FSU's SOS, but it's probably more important at this point in the season to make sure the Coastal provides a quality winner for the ACC Championship Game. That Coastal representative may be Duke, UNC or Pitt, but Miami (FL)'s season is a lost cause at this point and Brad Kaaya is out Saturday. The perception of the ACC as a whole will benefit from a Duke win, particularly since Miami is essentially indefensible at this point following that 58 point thrashing last week at the hands of Clemson. Maybe one year soon Miami (FL) won't completely fold after losing to the 'Noles.
Tulane at #16 Memphis: Tulane. Memphis is undefeated and ranked just ahead of FSU, so a Tiger loss would help move FSU one position up in the polls. There's one more reason to root for a Memphis loss discussed in the Ole Miss-Auburn game preview below.
Vanderbilt at #18 Houston: Vandy. Houston is undefeated and ranked just behind FSU in the AP Poll. It is in FSU's best interests to root against Houston merely for that reason. Additionally, so long as the American has 3 undefeated teams, the playoff picture will remain less clear. Let's see if the SEC can upset a ranked American opponent.
#9 Notre Dame at #21 Temple: Temple. Notre Dame is ranked ahead of FSU, so an Irish loss would help move FSU up in the polls. Memphis and Temple will play each other in 3 weeks.
#14 Oklahoma at Kansas: Kansas. OU is ranked ahead of FSU, so a Sooner loss would help move FSU up in the polls. Additionally, with Baylor losing their starting QB for the remainder of the season, Oklahoma is right back in the thick of the Big 12 title and playoff chase.
#12 Oklahoma State at Texas Tech: Texas Tech. Oklahoma State is undefeated and ranked ahead of FSU, so a Cowboy loss would help move FSU up in the polls. The Pokes play TCU next week, and play Baylor and OU the final two weeks of the season, so they still have the bulk of their tough opponents left to play.
Texas at Iowa State: Iowa State. Texas is Oklahoma's only loss to date. The worse Texas finishes, the more OU's SOS slips and the worse OU's playoff chances are.
Maryland at #10 Iowa: Maryland. Iowa is ranked ahead of FSU, so a Hawkeye loss would help move FSU up in the polls. Iowa has a cupcake finish to their regular season, and their odds of entering the Big Ten Championship Game undefeated are very good. FSU needs Iowa to drop a regular season game in order to clear poll space ahead of Florida State and help the 'Noles' playoff chances. An undefeated Iowa muddles the playoff and Big Six picture if they're undefeated going into Indianapolis against a possibly-undefeated Ohio State or Michigan State.
#15 Michigan at Minnesota: Minnesota. Michigan is ranked ahead of FSU, so a Wolverine loss would help move FSU up in the polls. Michigan still has to close their season at home against #1 Ohio State.
Colorado at #24 UCLA: Colorado. If UCLA loses to Colorado on Saturday, they will fall out of the Top 25. The fewer ranked teams int he Pac 12, the more it hurts the conference's playoff chances and the more Stanford's SOS drops.
Oregon State at #13 Utah: Oregon State. Utah is still ranked ahead of FSU despite losing to USC last week, so a Ute loss would help move FSU up in the polls.
#8 Stanford at Washington State: Washington State. Stanford is ranked ahead of FSU, so a Cardinal loss would help move FSU up in the polls. Stanford is the Pac 12's best remaining hope to gain a playoff spot, so FSU fans should root for Stanford and Utah to both drop a second game in order to help FSU's playoff chances.
#19 Ole Miss at Auburn: Ole Miss. Here's a sentence you won't read very often: To all the SEC haters, nay-sayers, and those fans out there fighting the good fight and advocating for the SEC to be left out of the College Football Playoff...you want that dream to turn into a reality? There's a viable roadmap: get behind the Rebel cause and its mighty "SEC doomsday" crusade.
Stay with me now. Mainly because they defeated Alabama, Ole Miss controls its own destiny in the SEC West, despite already having 2 losses overall. Ole Miss currently sits at #19 in the AP Poll, and has Auburn, Arkansas, LSU and Mississippi State remaining on its regular season schedule. Auburn and Arkansas are not good teams, and Ole Miss likely wouldn't see much of a jump in the polls for beating the Weagles and the Hogs. Mississippi State is slightly better, but still wouldn't be viewed as a huge win by the voters or playoff committee, particularly in the final week of the regular season. That leaves LSU.
If LSU was to drop its game against Bama next weekend, a hypothetical Ole Miss win over LSU suddenly isn't nearly as impressive. If the front-runner in the SEC East, Florida, loses to Georgia or Florida State (or both), an Ole Miss win over UF (or even UGA for that matter if they were able to pull out a win over Florida Saturday and ultimately win the East) in a hypothetical SEC Championship Game isn't very impressive, either. Additionally, if Memphis, the AAC team who defeated Ole Miss 2 weeks ago, drops a game or two, that would further hurt Ole Miss and its SOS. Would the playoff committee be willing to take a 2-loss Ole Miss over another 1-loss or undefeated conference champion, particularly since Ole Miss lost to Memphis? Worse yet, would the playoff committee be willing to take Alabama, a team that didn't even win its own division in this hypothetical scenario, over a 1-loss or undefeated conference champion, or even Ole Miss? Even though the Rebs control their own destiny in the SEC West, they're sitting all the way back at #19 in the AP Poll entering week 9, and with only one ranked opponent remaining on its schedule, that is a long and improbable climb back to get to the Top 4. This is the scenario SEC haters and those wanting to keep the SEC out of the playoff should pull for...the Ole Miss SEC doomsday nightmare. It would create absolute havoc.
On the flipside, if you believe the three preceding paragraphs are a load of hogwash and won't happen anyway, take Auburn. Auburn is not a good team. Ole Miss beat Alabama. Auburn could still hurt the perception of the SEC West and Bama's SOS this weekend if they manage to upset the Rebels at home. Plus, one less ranked team in the SEC is always an outcome to root for.
Georgia at #11 Florida: Georgia. Do I really need to explain this one? Florida is ranked ahead of FSU, so of course FSU fans should root for a Georgia win. FSU's SOS for playoff purposes could survive a Florida loss, so long as Clemson wins Saturday. Additionally, UF really only has the Seminoles remaining on its schedule after Georgia...Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Florida Atlantic barely have pulses. If Florida beats Georgia, they're probably a minimum 10-win team and will likely be the SEC East representative in Atlanta (in case you missed it, the SEC East is so atrocious it makes the ACC Coastal look like the NFC South by comparison). A Georgia win on Saturday would also hurt FSU's recruiting less than a Florida win would. Therefore, FSU fans should definitely root for Georgia...as if there was any other option.
Full Saturday TV Listings