Every week we take a look at what results from across the country Florida State football fans should be rooting for. The Seminoles debuted at #16 in the first College Football Playoff committee poll of 2015, the same position last year's national champion Ohio State debuted at in 2014. With that being said, every goal Florida State has remaining this season comes down to Saturday's tilt against Clemson: an Atlantic Division championship, an ACC championship, and College Football Playoff hopes. While all Garnet & Gold eyes will be on Death Valley Saturday afternoon, there are other matchups FSU fans should pay attention to on Saturday as well. Let's get into them. The games are organized by conference.
#5 Notre Dame at Pittsburgh: Pitt. Notre Dame is ranked ahead of FSU, so a Notre Dame loss would likely eliminate the Irish as a playoff contender and help FSU's ranking if FSU beats Clemson. This would also help the perception of the ACC, hurt Clemson's SOS and potentially jump Pitt back into the Top 25 if they were to pull this upset off. The Coastal is without a ranked team this week and needs at least one of Pitt and the winner of the UNC-Duke game to jump back in.
Cincinnati at #25 Houston: Cincinnati. FSU fans should root for the Bearcats to hand Houston their first loss of the season and either make space for other ACC teams to jump back into the Top 25, or alternatively, give FSU a cushion in the rankings if the 'Noles lose to Clemson.
Navy at #13 Memphis: Navy. As a former West Point cadet, it hurts to have to root for Navy, but a Midshipmen upset would benefit FSU by knocking Memphis out of the way in the polls and eliminate a fringe playoff contender. Navy runs that crazy option attack, so Memphis better be ready to figure out how to stop it on defense and score points with a limited game clock. A Memphis loss is also an important factor to root for in the SEC doomsday scenario.
#8 TCU at #14 Oklahoma State: Either outcome is beneficial to FSU because both teams are ranked ahead of the 'Noles. FSU fans should root for whichever team they believe is less of a playoff threat in this matchup. Normally I would say to pull for Oklahoma State, but I personally believe that the Pokes might be the best team in the Big 12. It would be nice to knock TCU down a peg, but maybe being "disrespected" by the playoff committee will be a motivating factor for them. TCU has also only beaten one team with a winning record so far this season. Both teams still have to play Baylor and Oklahoma as well. Go with your gut on this one, FSU fans. I'm assuming most 'Nole fans will be pulling for Okie State.
Iowa State at #15 Oklahoma: Iowa State. OU is ranked ahead of FSU in the polls, so an unlikely Iowa State upset in Norman would be beneficial to the 'Noles regardless of whether FSU beats Clemson (helps FSU ranking) or loses to Clemson (gives FSU some cushion in the polls).
Penn State at #21 Northwestern: Penn State. Northwestern is still ranked, albeit behind FSU, but the 'Noles wouldn't lose anything from a Penn State win, and a Northwestern loss would make room for another ACC team to crack the Top 25 or give FSU a bit of a cushion in the polls if the 'Noles lose to Clemson.
#9 Iowa at Indiana: Indiana. Iowa is ranked ahead of FSU in the polls, so a Hoosier upset would be beneficial to FSU if the 'Noles beat Clemson. Iowa has the easiest remaining regular season schedule of any playoff contender, with only Indiana, Minnesota, Purdue and Nebraska left. Playing IU on the road in Bloomington may represent the best remaining upset opportunity of Iowa before the Big 10 Championship Game.
Rutgers at #17 Michigan: Rutgers. Michigan is ranked just behind FSU, but the 'Noles wouldn't lose anything from a Rutgers win, and a Michigan loss would give FSU a bit of a cushion in the polls if the 'Noles lose to Clemson and also help prevent Michigan from jumping FSU down the road.
#7 Michigan State at Nebraska: Nebraska. Sparty is ranked ahead of FSU in the polls, so a Nebraska upset would be beneficial to the 'Noles if FSU beats Clemson. Michigan State plays Ohio State in two weeks.
Minnesota at #3 Ohio State: Minnesota. Ohio State, who is receiving the 2014 FSU treatment from the College Football Playoff committee, is ranked ahead of the 'Noles in the polls, so a Minnesota upset would be beneficial to the 'Noles if FSU beats Clemson. J.T. Barrett will be out for this game, because Urban Meyer is such a disciplinarian, guys.
#11 Stanford at Colorado: Colorado. Stanford is ranked ahead of FSU in the polls, so a Colorado upset would be beneficial to the Seminoles if FSU beats Clemson. Stanford also represents the Pac 12's best playoff shot, so any Stanford or Utah loss from here on out would likely mean the Pac 12 champion is left out of the playoff, which would also be beneficial to the eventual ACC champion.
#23 UCLA at Oregon State: Oregon State. UCLA is ranked behind FSU, but the 'Noles wouldn't lose anything from an Oregon State upset, and a UCLA loss would make room for another ACC team to enter the Top 25 or give FSU a bit of a cushion in the polls if the 'Noles lose to Clemson. A Bruins loss would also further hurt the perception of the Pac 12 by eliminating another ranked team from the conference, as well as damage Stanford's SOS.
#12 Utah at Washington: Washington. Utah is ranked ahead of FSU in the polls, so a Huskies win would beneficial to the Seminoles if FSU beats Clemson. As mentioned above, a Stanford or Utah loss from here on out would likely mean the Pac 12 champion is left out of the playoff, which would also be beneficial to the eventual ACC champion. FSU fans should therefore pull for Washington.
Vanderbilt at #10 Florida: Of course we would love to see Vandy to pull a miraculous upset and put UF's SEC East title on hold, but I think we all know Vandy isn't going to beat Florida in the Swamp on Saturday. UF winning out from here until our game would (a) certainly aid FSU's SOS and playoff chances in a major way if FSU beats #1 Clemson, NC State, Chattanooga and then highly-ranked, SEC East champ UF, or (b) would certainly give FSU one huge motivating reason to close the regular season strong if FSU loses to Clemson Saturday. That being said, Go Dores. UF has Vandy, South Carolina and Florida Atlantic before our game in Gainesville on November 28th. What a joke of a schedule leading up to our game.
Kentucky at Georgia: Kentucky. What a freakin' mess UGA is right now. That loss to UF in Jacksonville last weekend was just brutal. Richt and Pruitt have to be on their way out. When was the last time Georgia actually lived up to their preseason expectations? FSU fans should root for Kentucky purely for recruiting purposes.
Arkansas at #18 Ole Miss: Ole Miss. The Ole Miss "SEC doomsday" scenario is alive and well! You know it is a real threat when the brainless SEC fan-boys have already started the campaign against it. FSU fans should root for Ole Miss to win out from here, including the SEC Championship Game, and put the College Football Playoff in a situation where they can't (a) take a 2-loss SEC champion who likely will be ranked much lower than most other 1-loss or undefeated playoff contenders, especially if Memphis drops a game or two, or (b) take a 1-loss LSU or Alabama that didn't even win their own division. The Rebels close the regular season with Arkansas, LSU and Mississippi State, and FSU fans should pull for Ole Miss to win each of those games by 1 point. Don't think of it as rooting for Ole Miss, think of it as rooting for cannibalism in the pursuit of keeping the SEC out of the playoff.
Auburn at #19 Texas A&M: Auburn. TAMU is ranked behind FSU, but an Aggie loss would make room for another ACC team to enter the Top 25 or give FSU a bit of a cushion in the polls if the 'Noles lose to Clemson. Let's get these overrated SEC teams out of the Top 25 anyway. Remember when Auburn, Georgia, Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee were ranked in the preseason Top 25? How adorable.
#2 LSU at #4 Alabama: For the Ole Miss SEC doomsday scenario to work, FSU fans need to hope Alabama beats LSU at home. For starters, LSU plays Ole Miss in Oxford in two weeks. A hypothetical Ole Miss victory over a 1-loss Top 10 LSU team then is much less impressive and would result in a much smaller rankings boost for the Rebels than a hypothetical Ole Miss victory over an undefeated #1 or #2 LSU team. If the latter occurs, the College Football Playoff committee may be more likely to consider taking Ole Miss. The Rebels already hold the head-to-head advantage over the Tide, so an Alabama win doesn't destroy the odds of the SEC doomsday scenario actually happening. A LSU win really doesn't destroy the odds of the doomsday scenario either, but it certainly hurts the odds of the scenario actually playing out correctly. I'm sure FSU fans won't have too much issue with rooting for no one in the SEC to be undefeated after this weekend anyway.
One last disclaimer: if you're an advocate of the SEC doomsday scenario, you probably need to hope that the Pac 12 has Utah or Stanford remain a playoff threat at season's end. The College Football Playoff committee will certainly not keep two major conference champions out of the playoff, and it might be more inclined to take a 1-loss, non-SEC champion Alabama or LSU if the SEC champion has 2 losses and the Pac 12 doesn't have a legitimate playoff contender (assuming the ACC, Big Ten and Big 12 all have a conference champion in playoff position with 1 loss or no losses). The SEC doomsday scenario could also theoretically work if the American has an undefeated champion at season's end to fill that void. In the end, most FSU fans would probably prefer a Pac 12 team or even an American team in the playoff over a SEC team. Wouldn't that chaos be great fun?!
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