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Latest playoff rankings confirm Florida State controls its playoff destiny

In spite of social media chatter, the Seminoles simply need to keep winning to make the playoffs

Peyton Baker/Tomahawk Nation

Florida State maintained the No. 4 spot in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings, staying in front of undefeated Washington despite the Huskie’s winning a shootout in the LA Coliseum against defending Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams and the USC Trojans.

Prior to the rankings coming out, the doomsayers were out in full force on FSU social media with various scenarios being cooked up that would have the Seminoles being left out in favor of an 11-1 Ohio State, Michigan, or a 12-1 SEC Champion Alabama.

As last night’s poll reinforced, the Seminoles won’t be left out of the playoffs if they go undefeated and win the ACC. No undefeated Power 5 conference champion has been left out in the history of the playoffs.

Taking that certainly out of it, let’s take a look at the other two scenarios being bandied about.

Florida State is left out in favor of the loser of Ohio State vs. Michigan

Assuming the Buckeyes and Wolverines clash in another match-up of Top 5 unbeatens, there will be calls for both to make the playoffs again like last year. While two teams from the same conference have made the playoffs in four of the last six years there have been a particular set of circumstances behind each.

  • 2017 Playoffs: #1 Clemson, #2 Oklahoma, #3 Georgia, and #4 Alabama
  • Power 5 Champions left out: Ohio State (11-2) and USC (11-2)

Alabama made the playoffs at 11-1 despite losing the Iron Bowl and not playing in the SEC Championship game. Despite playing a paper-soft schedule, Wisconsin entered the Big 10 Championship game ranked #4 and in control of their destiny.

If the Badgers had won the Big 10 they would’ve made the playoffs.

  • 2020 Playoffs: #1 Alabama, #2 Clemson, #3 Ohio State, #4 Notre Dame
  • Power 5 Champions left out: Oklahoma (8-2) and Oregon (4-2)

Notre Dame being the ACC’s second team is a good shorthand to explain the craziness of the 2020 COVID season. Despite all the craziness, it still took Oklahoma and Oregon having multiple losses for the ACC to get a second team in.

  • 2021 Playoffs: #1 Alabama, #2 Michigan, #3 Georgia, #4 Cincinnati
  • Power 5 Champions left out: Baylor (11-2), Utah (10-3), Pitt (11-2)

The weakest group of P5 conference champions since the start of the playoff era. Not only did Georgia make the playoffs after losing the SEC Championship game but Cincinnati became the only G5 team to make the playoffs. In addition, Notre Dame was kept out of the playoffs at 11-1 in large part due to not playing a 13th game.

  • 2022 Playoffs: #1 Georgia, #2 Michigan, #3 TCU, #4 Ohio State
  • Power 5 Champions left out: Clemson (11-2), Utah (10-3), Kansas State (10-3)

Multiple 3-loss P5 conference champions paved the way for TCU and Ohio State to get in despite not winning their conferences.

Every year with multiple teams from one conference has seen multiple 2 or 3-loss P5 conference champions. Barring some late-season insanity, it appears this season is trending closer to 2014 with multiple undefeated or 1 loss P5 champions.

Florida State is left out in favor of 12-1 SEC Champion Alabama and 12-1 Georgia

The SEC is not an unstoppable super conference this year. The SEC is 5-7 vs. other P5 conferences this year and is likely to end up 6-10 after Thanksgiving weekend. Auburn’s 14-10 win over Cal is the SEC’s sole P5 OOC win on the road this year. Alabama lost by 10 to Texas at home in a game that wasn’t even that close. Georgia’s weak schedule was a major talking point during the lead-up to this year and it didn’t get magically better. The Bulldogs best win would be against a 10-win Ole Miss team whose best win isn’t even against another SEC team but Tulane.

While the shine is coming off the LSU win, it was still a statement victory to start the year for FSU. Clemson taking down Notre Dame served as a reminder that any win at Clemson is worth something. In addition, FSU will have to play a potential 11-win Louisville team to claim the ACC crown.

An undefeated FSU, undefeated Big 10 champion, undefeated Washington, and 12-1 Texas means the SEC is sitting on the sideline for the final

All of this is to say, as long as the Seminoles keep winning they will be playing on New Year’s Day for a shot at the national championship.

College Football Playoff Rankings: Week 11

  1. Ohio State Buckeyes (9-0)
  2. Georgia Bulldogs (9-0)
  3. Michigan Wolverines (9-0)
  4. Florida State Seminoles (9-0)
  5. Washington Huskies (9-0)
  6. Oregon Ducks (8-1)
  7. Texas Longhorns (8-1)
  8. Alabama Crimson Tide (8-1)
  9. Ole Miss Rebels (8-1)
  10. Penn State Nittany Lions (8-1)
  11. Louisville Cardinals (8-1)
  12. Oregon State Beavers (7-2)
  13. Tennessee Volunteers (7-2)
  14. Missouri Tigers (7-2)
  15. Oklahoma State Cowboys (7-2)
  16. Kansas Jayhawks (7-2)
  17. Oklahoma Sooners (7-2)
  18. Utah Utes (7-2)
  19. LSU Tigers (6-3)
  20. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-3)
  21. Arizona Wildcats (6-3)
  22. Iowa Hawkeyes (7-2)
  23. Tulane Green Wave (8-1)
  24. North Carolina Tar Heels (7-2)
  25. Kansas State Wildcats (6-3)