The first College Football Playoff rankings of the 2015 season were released Tuesday night, and, not surprisingly, the Seminoles found themselves at No. 16. More intriguing is the ranking of FSU's Saturday afternoon opponent, the Clemson Tigers, who are ranked No. 1.
So how has Florida State done against No. 1 teams, historically? Not terribly. The 'Noles are 2-8 (20%) against teams considered the country's best by any of the major polls (AP, Coaches, BCS, or CFP), with the wins coming over Nebraska in 1994 (which produced FSU's first national title) and another over Florida in 1996, when the rivals were ranked 1-2 heading into their annual showdown. The Seminoles' success rate against the country's top dog doesn't sound great, but think of how often No. 1 teams defend that ranking-- it's certainly better than 80%.
In fact, the country's top team, across all polls, is 800-144-15, giving lower-ranked teams a winning percentage of about 15%. Of course, you can reasonably bump that up a bit, given the number of ties and the fair assumption that some of those might have gone the way of the underdog, had overtime existed in its present format.
The numbers look even better for FSU when you consider the ranking that the 'Noles presently hold. Historically, ranked teams take down No. 1 at a clip of 25% (again, adjust that up a tad given eight ties).
Jimbo Fisher hasn't experienced any success against No. 1 teams in his tenure at Florida State, dropping contests to UF in 2009 while he was the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, as well as a 2011 game against Oklahoma as the Seminoles' head coach. However, Fisher has a very nice record against the country's top team in his D1 coaching career.
While the QBs coach at Auburn, Fisher played a part in topping the No. 1 Gators in 1994, while losing to top-ranked Florida in 1996. And he went 1-0 vs. the nation's best while serving as the quarterbacks coach and OC at LSU, besting Oklahoma in 2004. All told, Fisher is 2-3 as a major college coach, in any capacity, against No. 1 teams; and that 40% winning percentage is certainly beyond respectable.
Questions abound about how Clemson will handle its top billing, as, program-wise, this is quite new territory for Clemson. The Tigers have played a grand total of one game as the No. 1 team in the country, a 1982 victory vs. Nebraska that gave CU its lone national title. As a comparison, FSU is 51-6 while ranked first.