The Hypothetical That Probably Won’t Become Reality: What If Florida State loses Before December 7?

Hypotheticals are not meant to indicate or suggest that certain events will in fact take place. No one’s predicting that Florida State will lose once in the next three weeks. However, what if the Seminoles do stumble? The Student Section editors try to get ahead of that question in this new roundtable.

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Will FSU make the College Football Playoff if it loses once?

Matt Zemek:

On Twitter: @SectionMZ

There’s an easy tendency to look at this question in a flat, absolutist manner — one loss is one loss is one loss. There’s a valid reason to say that any loss by Florida State will carry with it a set of severe consequences, but there’s also reason to dig below the surface and distinguish among the possible losses the Seminoles could suffer.

(Side note: I don’t think FSU will lose a regular-season game. This is a hypothetical we’re dealing with here.)

Let’s say Florida State loses to Boston College or Florida at home.

Let’s say Florida State loses to Duke in the ACC Championship Game.

Let’s say Florida State loses to 9-3 Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship Game.

Let’s say Florida State loses to 10-2 Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship Game, after Georgia Tech defeats Georgia on Nov. 29.

You could perhaps say that a loss, no matter how you slice it, cooks Florida State as far as the playoff is concerned. You might be right.

If Duke loses to North Carolina this Thursday and Florida State plays a 10-2 Georgia Tech team in the ACC Championship Game, a possible FSU loss would not be a bad one for the Seminoles. That's just one of many possibilities in play at the moment. This question can't be viewed in a flat and absolutist way -- not yet, at least.

If Duke loses to North Carolina this Thursday and Florida State plays a 10-2 Georgia Tech team in the ACC Championship Game, a possible FSU loss would not be a bad one for the Seminoles. That’s just one of many possibilities in play at the moment. This question can’t be viewed in a flat and absolutist way — not yet, at least.

However, if Florida State loses to a 10-2 Georgia Tech team — one that is playing excellent football right now and would diminish the SEC by beating Georgia — Florida State would have more of a case to make. Moreover, if enough dominoes fall in the other conferences (Wisconsin beating Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game; the Pac-12 South champion beating Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game), the Seminoles could still get that fourth seed with a 12-1 record.

You might think this is an easy question.

You might want to consider several scenarios that are in play.

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Bart Doan:

On Twitter: @TheCoachBart

This is a tough question, like the steak at Golden Corral. Yes, they have steak there, or some sort of meat that allegedly passes off as steak. Why? Because it depends on the fate of other teams.

The ACC isn’t a great conference, but it wasn’t last year either. Some people REFUSE to believe this, but the best team in the country can come from a poorer overall conference. And it’s not as though FSU didn’t at least attempt to make a schedule with hair on its chest.

If you’re looking at a team that just schedules directional schools and FCS joints out of conference, yeah, leave ‘em out. However, FSU can’t help that Florida stinks, that Notre Dame has petered off into the ocean of utter mediocrity, or that the ACC is weaker this year than in past years and just simply doesn’t have that one alternative really good team to at least prop up FSU like last year with Clemson.

I also think there’s a curiosity as to whether or not the Noles can repeat, which helps their cause, but considering the weakness of the ACC, you’re probably looking at the style of loss FSU would incur (which at this point, is going to be to an unranked, not highly thought of team) and then a bit on the fates of others. You might be looking at needing an Ohio State or a Big 12 top-shelf team to lose as well if you’re one of those people that looks only at a sterile resume.

So the answer is pretty layered, especially when the playoff committee seems to be taking a lot of its opinions from the sometimes beer goggles-esque “eye test.” Only the guys on that committee know what they personally feel about FSU, and we’ll find out a lot about that on Tuesday night.

So I don’t know. I know I’d like to see the Noles in there because the allure of seeing the possibility of Jameis Winston go unbeaten two years in college with two championships is something that will stand the test of time. It seems like a legendary storyline that would feel a bit hollow if FSU lost one game and boat-raced someone in a non-playoff bowl.

But, like anything else, keep winning and you leave no doubt. Lose, and then we talk about stuff like this. The really interesting conversation gets into scheduling in advance and then being unlucky that some of the power teams you’ve scheduled are in down cycles. How should that be treated?

I don’t know. But again, FSU would be wise in not trying to test it.

Notre Dame is not a great win for Florida State  -- not after losing two straight games -- but the Irish represent a higher-quality non-conference win for Florida State than anything Ohio State, Baylor, or TCU can offer. That's a point which gets lost in this "one-loss FSU" hypothetical.

Notre Dame is not a great win for Florida State — not after losing two straight games — but the Irish represent a higher-quality non-conference win for Florida State than anything Ohio State, Baylor, or TCU can offer. That’s a point which gets lost in this “one-loss FSU” hypothetical.

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Terry Johnson:

On Twitter: @SectionTPJ

Let me qualify my comments by saying that this question is a purely academic exercise. As long as Jameis Winston is under center, the Seminoles are capable of erasing any deficit, which is why I don’t think they’ll lose this year.

However, to answer the question as it’s asked, I believe that Florida State should make the field as long as it wins the ACC championship. Remember, the Selection Committee is supposed to give weight to championships won and strength of schedule when deciding between similar teams.

Using those metrics, it’s almost impossible to exclude the Seminoles from the field. After all, even if Florida State should drop a regular season contest (but still win the ACC title), it will have defeated no less than seven bowl-bound teams this fall. That slate includes difficult non-conference games with Notre Dame, Florida, and Oklahoma State.

That’s a much more impressive non-conference slate than fellow contenders Ohio State (which should also be in), Baylor, and TCU played against this fall. Unless the committee wants to undermine its own credibility, it would have to reward a one-loss ACC champion over the other squads above.

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