Florida State is 19th in the preseason Coaches Poll. Based on feedback in the comment section, most fans think 19th is about right, but some believe FSU will exceed this mark, while only a small fraction believe FSU doesn’t deserve to be ranked.
Keeping in mind that polls are absolutely not a power poll, but rather typically just a listing of teams by record, with minor adjustments made within a range of 1 win or loss (you almost never see 10-win teams ranked higher than 12-win teams), what record would FSU need to achieve to finish ranked 18th or better?
To determine this, I pulled the polls from the four years of the playoff era. FSU has the or one of the toughest schedules in the nation this year, so it is in excellent position to get the benefit of the doubt voters, thus I am focusing on the upper range of each record.
- 2014: Six teams finished rated 17th or better with a 9-3 record, including Ole Miss at No. 9.
- 2015: One team (LSU) managed to finish 16th at 9-3.
- 2016: LSU finish ranked 13th at 8-4, while UF finished 14th at 9-4.
- 2017: LSU finished ranked 18th at 9-4.
The magic number seems to be nine wins. While LSU did it with eight in 2016, the Tigers started the year at No. 5, which helps to keep a team high in the rankings because of confirmation bias in the voters.
So the question then becomes FSU’s chances of getting to nine wins including a bowl game.
My own numbers think those chances are better than not. I give FSU a 35% chance of reaching nine wins in the regular season, but that does not account for the bowl game. If FSU ends up at 8-4 (my most likely outcome), it will almost certainly be in a bowl against an opponent over which it is favored. At that point, I’d say FSU has about a 55% chance of getting to nine wins.
And 55% is more likely than not, however slightly, so I’ll go ahead and predict that FSU exceeds its No. 19 preseason ranking.