Lutz Blog

Bob Lutz: Not sold on unbeaten Florida State

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston ranks 11th in the country in passing yards, but has been intercepted 13 times to go with 19 touchdown passes. The defending Heisman Trophy winner is barely in the discussion this season although the Seminoles are unbeaten.
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston ranks 11th in the country in passing yards, but has been intercepted 13 times to go with 19 touchdown passes. The defending Heisman Trophy winner is barely in the discussion this season although the Seminoles are unbeaten.

Florida State is the nation’s only unbeaten Power Five college football team. The Seminoles are the defending national champions. FSU quarterback Jameis Winston won the Heisman Trophy as a freshman in 2013.

So why is it that I believe the Seminoles are the most over-ranked, over-hyped, over-everything team in college football?

First, I’m not blown away by who Florida State has beaten. Clemson (No. 22) and Louisville (No. 24) are the only currently-ranked teams on the Seminoles’ victims list.

FSU has had a bunch of close calls against teams they shouldn’t have struggled with. Remember that season-opening 35-31 win over Oklahoma State? We’ve discovered the Cowboys are a jumbled mess, though partially because of injuries.

Florida State had to battle to beat Clemson in overtime, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Louisville, Miami (Fla.) and Boston College.

Clemson and Louisville are both 8-3 but the other FBS teams on Florida State’s schedule are a combined 41-47. Citadel, a FCS opponent that Florida State defeated 37-12 in September, is 5-7.

Give Florida State credit for pulling out wins. The Seminoles have been on the ropes a bunch this season but always find a way to escape. Winston is having another terrific season on the field, but remains a lightning rod off the field.

And perhaps it’s because of my growing dislike for Winston and his antics that make it difficult for me to give Florida State the credit some believe it deserves.

However, the Seminoles, despite being unbeaten, are ranked third in the College Football Playoff Rankings behind once-beaten Alabama and Oregon.

I think there are a bunch of teams better than Florida State, including TCU and Baylor out of the Big 12. And I wouldn’t bet against Kansas State in a game against Florida State.

But being unbeaten is pretty hard to argue against. The Seminoles have two games remaining in the regular season, against Florida this week and Georgia Tech on Dec. 6. The Yellow Jackets are 9-2 and ranked 18th in the CFPR and 16th by the Associated Press.

Because of a relatively-weak schedule, Florida State won’t be able to withstand a defeat, I wouldn’t think, and still get into the four-team playoff for the national championship.

The ACC just isn’t strong enough to prop up the Seminoles. There’s not enough there.

And some of Florida State’s statistical numbers don’t add up to the Seminoles being good enough to make the playoffs.

Let’s consider FSU’s defense, which ranks No. 54 of the 125 FBS teams in the country. That’s barely inside the top half and it’s made even less impressive when you consider the offenses Florida State has defended.

Only one, Notre Dame, is ranked among the nation’s top 30. And the Irish check in at No. 30, averaging 453.3 yards per game.

Otherwise, Miami is No. 45 (431.9 ypg), Clemson 61 (402.7), North Carolina State 65 (397.3), Boston College 70 (391.3), Louisville 73 (389.4), Virginia 81 (379.6), Oklahoma State 88 (369.7), Syracuse 109 (347.5) and Wake Forest 125 (207.3).

Florida State does rank 37th nationally in total offense, but does most of its damage in the passing game. The Seminoles rank No. 104 in rushing at just 126.6 yards per game; that’s one spot behind Kansas.

Here’s how the nation’s Top 12 in the College Football Playoff Rankings stack up nationally in total offense and total defense:

1. Alabama (No. 20 offense, No. 5 defense)

2. Oregon (No. 5 offense, No. 91 defense)

3. Florida State (No. 37 offense, No. 54 defense)

4. Mississippi State (No. 9 offense, No. 68 defense)

5. TCU (No. 4 offense, No. 53 defense)

6. Ohio State (No. 10 offense, No. 19 defense)

7. Baylor (No. 1 offense, No. 18 defense)

8. Ole Miss (No. 44 offense, No. 10 defense)

9. UCLA (No. 16 offense, No. 66 defense)

10. Georgia (No. 26 offense, No. 13 defense)

11. Michigan State (No. 7 offense, No. 8 defense)

12. Kansas State (No. 54 offense, No. 35 defense)

Outside of being unbeaten – and yes, that’s a big thing – where does it compute that Florida State belongs in the playoffs this season? The Seminoles are a giant bubble, waiting to be popped.

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