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Early ACC Championship and Playoff Discussion

So we're at the time of year when playoff talk begins heating up. All the "what ifs" come out, and with 9 teams yet to post a loss, it makes for interesting conversation. Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, Florida State, Oklahoma, Washington, Air Force, James Madison and Liberty.

How will this all go down and how will it impact Florida State??

This is one person's view on it.

First, Florida State needs to punch its ticket to the ACC Championship game. Unless that little detail is taken care of, any talk of FSU in the playoffs won't work. FSU sits in the prime position here; we control our own destiny. Simply put, beat Wake, Pitt and Miami and we're in. FSU will likely be favored in all three of those games, probably heavily favored in two of them.

The Miami game is the key here. It's a home game for FSU. For FSU, Miami is one of its two biggest rivals. For Miami, FSU IS their biggest rival. Miami is talented and improving. It's a big lift and we will get their absolute best effort. My guess is that on a night game in Doak, with FSU having an on-field coaching advantage as well, the Seminoles pull it off, but what if we don't?

Duke, UNC and Louisville all have one conference loss. What if FSU joins their ranks? Okay, so first off, that scenario won't exist after we play Miami. Duke and Louisville square off this weekend and one of those teams will join the two-conference loss club. The maximum number of one conference loss ACC teams at this point is three. Duke can either hand UNC or Louisville a second loss or will be eliminated themselves.

If Duke beats Louisville, then FSU is in the ACCCG with one loss regardless of any other results assuming FSU can handle Wake and Pitt.

If Louisville beats Duke though, it gets more complicated and will take longer to sort out. Worst case scenario goes like this -€” Miami beats FSU, handing us our one loss. Louisville beats Duke and Miami and their remaining conference foes. UNC does the same.

The ACC tiebreaker begins with head to head results. UNC, Louisville and FSU all avoided each other this season. The second tiebreaker is winning percentage against all common opponents. UNC's loss would be to Virginia -€” whom we do not play. Louisville's loss would be to Pitt, who we beat under this analysis. Our loss would be to Miami, who Louisville would beat in our discussion.

UNC has wins over Pitt and Miami which slots them in.

FSU beat Pitt, Louisville will have beaten Miami, so we move to the third tiebreaker determinate. Win percentage against common opponents with the added caveat of order of finish in the conference, beginning with the highest-seeded common opponents and moving downward in order of the standings. The way that is worded, Louisville's Miami win would likely best FSU's win over Pitt. There is no loss component in the wording of the rule.

See where this is going?! A loss to Miami, assuming UNC and Louisville win out, would eliminate FSU from the ACCCG and likely the playoffs through the common opponent criteria.

Going further down the rabbit hole, let's say that the season ends with five undefeated P5 teams, one of them being FSU. We'll go ahead and rule out Air Force, Liberty and James Madison. Winner of the Michigan/OSU game, Oklahoma, Washington, Georgia and Florida State. Then what?

In my opinion, you can go ahead and slot two positions -€” SEC champion and B1G undefeated champion. Notice what I did there, because if the SEC champion turns out to be Alabama, I'm saying they're in. Let's face it, the SEC is a tough conference, and it is PERCEIVED to be the best, despite the whooping the ACC teams put on them in the early weeks this year.

There is also another factor at play -€” the networks. The SEC is ESPN's golden child, no way they would stand by and let the SEC be excluded. In all fairness though, assuming it's Georgia, they will have faced Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Florida, Ole Miss and likely Alabama to get there. A one loss Bama team will have faced a similar gauntlet. Also, if it's Georgia, they've earned the right to be there with two straight nattys.

The B1G though, particularly if it's Michigan will be another story. Michigan will play two decent teams this year -€” Penn State and Ohio State. That's it. If OSU wins the B1G, at least they will have played Notre Dame out of conference, other than that, Penn State and Michigan.

I feel confident though that despite the ease of schedule, an UNDEFEATED B1G champion will make the playoffs. There can mathematically be only one undefeated B1G team at the end of the year, so at least there's that. Much like the SEC, it's perception and TV contracts. The B1G is in cahoots with every network not named ESPN. They will get in IF they are undefeated.

That leaves FSU, Oklahoma and Washington vying for the remaining two positions if all manage to escape the remainder of their schedules unscathed. FSU will boast victories over LSU, Miami, Duke and Clemson plus likely UNC. If FSU wins out, I think we're in with no problem and don't need to worry.

Washington will boast victories over Oregon, USC, Utah and Oregon St plus a rematch with one of those teams. Honestly, looking at the gamut remaining, the likelihood of Washington going undefeated is pretty slim and they won't get in with a loss because...

Oklahoma will have victories over Texas, and probably Texas. Oklahoma's schedule sets up nicely for them but doesn't offer any meat for the selection committee to feast on if they stumble.

So...

My best guess would be: Georgia, Ohio State, Florida State and Oklahoma.

If Washington wins out, Oklahoma gets left out. If FSU wins out, I think we're in with no problem and don't need to worry.

Two spots are already decided in my opinion. SEC and B1G. A one loss Alabama makes it and one of the B1G teams will emerge undefeated barring a very unexpected upset. If the B12 champion emerges with one loss, that team is likely to be Texas with its victory over Alabama and avenging its Oklahoma loss. In a scenario with one loss teams Texas, Washington and Florida State, we may come out on the losing end of that proposition.

Of course all this will sort out over the rest of the season. It's as likely as not that UNC or Louisville will drop another game along the way.

Thanks for reading and GO NOLES!!!!

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