The Florida State Seminoles might be the most controversial team in college football. Many people – even those outside of Tallahassee – steadfastly insist they should be the No. 1 team in Tuesday’s College Football Playoff Rankings. Many people insist they should not. And some people, well, some people believe they shouldn’t be in the top four at all – even though they’re the only remaining undefeated team from a major conference.
“They’re the hunted, right?” CBS Sports college football analyst Spencer Tillman said on Ferrall on the Bench. “They’re not an unknown quantity anymore. They haven’t played that juggernaut team. They have not been impressive, okay? They’ve had too many close calls. But when you’re the hunted, when you’re not an unknown quantity anymore, you’re going to get everybody else’s best game out there.”
Florida State got Miami’s best game this past Saturday. The Seminoles fell behind 16-0 and 23-7 in the first half. No matter. They won, 30-26, taking their first lead of the game with 3:05 remaining in the fourth quarter. Miami easily could have won the game, but three turnovers, a missed field goal, a blocked extra point – and some unlucky breaks on defense – doomed the Hurricanes.
Florida State has now pulled the rabbit out of the hat in five games this season. FSU needed overtime to survive Clemson, needed a pass interference call to beat Notre Dame, trailed NC State by 17, trailed Louisville by 21 and trailed Miami by 16.
“The one thing they’re missing is that one juggernaut,” Tillman said. “It’s kind of like Ali/Frazier. If you’re going to be considered a great fighter, you’ve got to have an antagonist, that one person – like Frazier was to Ali – to make you great. That’s the only thing that they’re missing right now. So as far as they’re concerned, I still think they’re deserving of that No. 1 spot.”
Two of the other top four teams will almost certainly include Alabama and Oregon, while the fourth and final spot figures to be Mississippi State, Baylor, TCU or Ohio State.
“Alabama, to me, they’re in that No. 2 spot,” Tillman said. “They deserve it.”
The Tide beat No. 1 Mississippi State, 25-20, this past Saturday – this after surviving LSU in overtime in Death Valley. Alabama is 3-1 against ranked teams this year, the one loss coming at Ole Miss in October.
Alabama has a virtual bye this week – it hosts Western Carolina – before closing the regular season at home against Auburn (7-3, 4-3). Can the Tigers, who have lost two straight, give the Tide a run for their money?
Maybe, but probably not.
“I knew everybody should give (Alabama) a mulligan, and they got theirs,” Tillman said. “That was the one loss that they got, but I don’t think they’ll lose another one. Auburn has got some problems right now.”
Indeed, Auburn has allowed 179 points in its last five games – an average of 35.8 points per game. The Tigers rank 53rd in the country in scoring defense (25.1 points per game), while Alabama ranks second (14.5).
“That’s a problem,” Tillman said. “A major problem.”