Clemson Auburn With a Lake week and Florida State fans have had this matchup with the Tigers circled on their calendars since the ‘Noles schedule came out. While the game won’t live up to its inflated preseason billing (solely FSU’s fault for that), the Seminole faithful will still get to enjoy a huge primetime Top-12 matchup at Doak Campbell with a chance to re-establish natural order in the Atlantic Division and, in turn, ruin Clemson’s perfect season and hopes of returning to the College Football Playoff.
Obviously, the attention of Florida State fans will be focused solely on Tallahassee Saturday evening, but there are other important games to keep an eye on throughout the day. Saturday’s lineup is chock-full of good matchups, so let’s get into some of them. Game times listed are EST.
No. 5 Louisville at Virginia, 12:00, ABC or ESPN2: Louisville. I know what you’re thinking...why? Here’s why: if FSU has any real shot of making a NY6 bowl this season, the most viable option involves having both Clemson and Louisville make it in to the College Football Playoff. There’s only one at-large NY6 spot this year, and it’s in the Cotton Bowl against the highest-ranked Group-of-5 school.
Obviously this scenario can drastically change if FSU upsets Clemson, but assuming Clemson wins Saturday night as expected, FSU fans should root for Louisville to make it into the CFP as the fourth seed. That means there’s no point in rooting for a Virginia upset on Saturday.
Boston College at NC State, 12:30, ACCN: Boston College. Honestly, either outcome is acceptable here for Florida State. FSU plays both of these teams, but a looming trip to Raleigh next Saturday really just means that either result is fine so long as Boston College makes this game as difficult and as painful as possible for the Wolfpack.
Army at Wake Forest, 3:30, ACCN: Wake Forest. The Deacs need one more win to crack bowl eligibility, and another win over a bowl-bound opponent would help FSU’s strength of schedule and the possibility of a NY6 berth at the end of the year. Florida State fans should root for the divisional mate in this one.
Miami at Notre Dame, 3:30, NBC: Can both of these teams lose? Florida State’s win over Miami continues to look worse and worse as the ‘Canes limp to the finish line once again, but a loss to the struggling Irish would essentially render it worthless. FSU fans love to pile on the ‘Canes, but at some point they need to finish the season relatively strong to boost FSU’s strength of schedule.
At the end of the day, none of this analysis really matters. Go with your gut and with the team you hate less. For most ‘Nole fans, that means Notre Dame.
Navy at South Florida, 7:00 (Friday), ESPN2: USF. Just as the Bulls were on the cusp of cracking the AP Top 25, they dropped their first conference game in ugly fashion to Temple last week. You know Temple; it’s the team that lost to Army. USF still shares the lead in the AAC East standings with Temple at 3-1, and FSU fans should be rooting for USF to win their division, at the minimum, for strength-of-schedule purposes and bowl posturing. After Navy, USF will close out the season with Memphis, SMU, and UCF. Then they’ll have to deal with keeping Willy Taggert around in Tampa.
UCF at Houston, 12:00, ESPNU: UCF. Remember three weeks ago when Houston was a top-five team? After an ugly and perplexing loss to SMU last week, those days are long gone. However, Houston managed to beat Oklahoma in week one, and OU might be NY6 competition for the ‘Noles at the end of the year, so the more Houston tanks, the better it is for FSU’s NY6 opportunities. Florida State fans should root for UCF on Saturday.
No. 10 West Virginia at Oklahoma State, 12:00, FOX: Oklahoma State. Undefeated West Virginia finds itself as a trendy, outside pick to win the Big 12 and a berth in the College Football Playoff. Personally, I think that is premature given that the ‘Neers still have Okie State, Texas, OU, and Baylor left on their schedule. That being said, West Virginia has some momentum going, and it’s ranked ahead of FSU. ‘Noles fans should therefore root for unranked Oklahoma State to upset West Virginia in Stillwater on Saturday.
No. 8 Baylor at Texas; 3:30, ABC: Texas. The Baylor Bears are ranked ahead of FSU and are the highest ranked team in the Big 12. Florida State fans should root for an unranked team to upset the Big 12’s best chance at a College Football Playoff berth because Baylor could potentially be NY6 competition at the end of the year for FSU, or, potentially, CFP competition for the two other ACC teams ranked ahead of them. Baylor goes to TCU next week, then Oklahoma. They’ll close the regular season at West Virginia, which, ironically enough, is shaping up to be a Big 12 championship game—or as close as the Big 12 can get to one.
Kansas at No. 16 Oklahoma, 7:00, FS1: Kansas. Oklahoma is presently ranked four spots behind FSU, and it has an identical record. FSU fans should root for a Jayhawk upset, because that would buy the ‘Noles a little insurance in case of a Clemson loss. It would also likely knock Oklahoma out of the NY6-bowl-berth discussion.
Northwestern at No. 6 Ohio State, 3:30, ESPN: Northwestern. How enjoyable was it to watch Urban Meyer lose last weekend? I’ve never known a coach to be so universally disliked. Honestly, it’s almost impressive. I was under the impression that FSU fans disliked Meyer more than any fanbase, but the pure joy and glee I saw from Gator fans last week after that OSU loss made me reevaluate that initial judgment. FSU fans don’t like him, Michigan fans don’t like him, Florida fans don’t like him, Georgia fans don’t like him, fans of every other SEC school don’t like him, and fans of every other Big Ten school don’t like him. If Urban Meyer were running for President, he’d probably be the least favorably viewed candidate in the race.
With the culmination of this ugly, negative election bearing down upon us, Americans could use another dose of universal positivity. Apparently, fewer things can produce that level of nationwide happiness than another Meyer loss. Ohio State is ranked ahead of FSU, and a second loss to Northwestern would probably knock them out of contention for the CFP. Will Ohio State rebound, nap, or check out? Florida State fans should hope for one of the latter two and root for an unlikely Northwestern upset on Saturday, brought to you by cold Papa John’s. Do it for America.
No. 7 Nebraska at No. 11 Wisconsin, 7:00, ESPN: Nebraska. Wisconsin is ranked just one spot ahead of Florida State in the AP poll, and they also have two losses. If FSU beats Clemson, a third Badgers loss would get Wisconsin out of its way in the rankings. If FSU loses, a third Badgers loss would be a cushion for FSU’s fall in the rankings. Florida State fans should pull for Nebraska in this one on Saturday.
No. 4 Washington at No. 17 Utah, 3:30, FS1: This one is a lose-lose situation for FSU. If No. 4 Washington wins, that could hurt Louisville’s chances of an at-large CFP bid down the road (Utah is the last ranked team UW will play in the regular season) and thus potentially hurt FSU’s NY6 chances. In fact, if this week’s Pac-12 standings hold at the end of the year, this would be a preview of the Pac-12 Championship Game. However, if Utah beats the Huskies, they would likely jump FSU if the ‘Noles lose to Clemson.
Kentucky at Missouri, 12:00, SECN: Kentucky. Let this sink in: the Kentucky Wildcats are currently second in the SEC East standings. That’s not a typo, and we aren’t talking basketball. The 4-3 ‘Cats, lead by our old acquaintance Mark Stoops, have bounced back nicely after an opening weekend loss to Southern Miss and an embarrassing loss in the Swamp in week two. Meanwhile, 2-5 Missouri has lost nine (!) straight conference games, and just lost to Middle Tennessee State last weekend. If the Dawgs are able to beat the Gators on Saturday, Kentucky would be tied for the SEC East lead with UF (and Tennessee, assuming they beat USC). A win over Missouri will also earn UK almost-certain bowl eligibility (they play Austin Peay on November 19th), which is basically the equivalent of an SEC East title in Lexington.
SEC haters unite behind the Kentucky cause. You can’t argue conference supremacy when Kentucky is in contention for a spot in Atlanta in November...in football.
No. 14 Florida vs. Georgia, 3:30, CBS: Georgia. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” is never truer for ‘Noles fans than during the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. As a Florida State grad in Jacksonville, this week is particularly annoying. Watching the UF-homer Jacksonville sports media salivate over this mediocre game is an annual rite of passage, frustrated even more this year by the fact that they have completely ignored a Top-12 matchup 160 miles west. Don’t believe me? How about now? This year’s edition of the Georgia-Florida game pits an unranked team that just lost to Vandy against a team with an offense that nearly gets outscored by its defense on a weekly basis, lead by a former walk-on quarterback whose name literally translates to “Luke of the River.” But alas, I guess any football game can be exciting compared to the Jaguars. Never mind the fact that the Georgia-Florida game in Jacksonville is really as much a “neutral site” game as FSU-Clemson playing annually in Charlotte would be considered “neutral.”
As the motherboard points out, this series is known historically for its unpredictability. Two years ago a Publix bagger won the game for the Gators on a fake field goal. Florida State fans will obviously be rooting for Georgia on Saturday, but there’s a much bigger game, six counties over, that everyone in Florida outside of Jacksonville will be watching with far greater interest.
Samford at Mississippi State, 3:30, SECN: Samford. Mississippi State has already lost to South Alabama and BYU, so why not add another ugly out-of-conference loss to Samford on Saturday? The seat in Starkville is getting hot for Dan Mullen, the poster child for the cautionary tale of what happens when you don’t parlay your overachievement at a mediocre program into a better job. FSU fans should root for Samford because it’s fun to root for massive underdog upsets, especially over also-ran SEC programs that overinflate their self-worth.
No. 15 Auburn at Ole Miss, 7:15, SECN: Ole Miss. Remember like two weeks ago when Ole Miss was sort of good? Remember when Auburn was a flaming dumpster fire on the verge of cleaning house? Well, I’m here to tell you, college football is a fickle mistress and can show you just how wrong your delusions are in a hurry. That dumpster fire you thought you saw coming? It was actually a drunk Auburn fan accidentally lighting the new Toomers Corner trees on fire, and it must’ve worked some kind of evil Harvey Updyke demon off the Plains, because these two programs have completely reversed fortunes in the span of a mere month. Ole Miss is unranked, its 2017 recruiting class is ranked 56th in the country (13th in the SEC by the way) and the Rebs are staring potential bowl ineligibility and crippling NCAA sanctions square in the face.
Meanwhile, by merely deciding to play one quarterback, 5-2 Auburn has revitalized its season and likely saved Gus’s job. They’ve won four games in a row, and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee will almost certainly be a hot commodity come the offseason. Florida State fans should root for Ole Miss on Saturday for strength-of-schedule purposes and for the mere fact that Auburn is ranked just three spots behind the ‘Noles this week. Be useful for us just once this season, Ole Miss.
No. 18 Tennessee at South Carolina, 7:15, ESPN2: Tennessee. Here’s my reasoning: Tennessee is the only team in contention for the SEC East title that has the head-to-head tiebreaker advantage over Florida. Kentucky obviously does not. Tennessee is currently ranked six spots behind FSU, and even in a potential loss to No. 3 Clemson, you’d think that FSU probably won’t fall that far down the AP poll. If FSU fans don’t want to see Florida win the SEC East, they should pull for the Vols this weekend.
South Carolina is 1-4 in conference play and frankly, they’re not very good. But don’t fret, FSU fans will have a chance to pull for a Gamecocks upset in two weeks in Gainesville.
New Mexico State at No. 9 Texas A&M, 7:30, ESPNU: New Mexico State. Texas A&M is ranked ahead of Florida State, and isn’t likely to win the SEC West unless the Tide falter twice. They are therefore a potentially formidable NY6 bowl competitor with FSU. With the loss to Alabama last weekend, have the Aggies’ usual mid-season struggles begun? Will they be caught napping or take out their Bama frustration on 2-5 NM State? Let’s hope it’s the former.