Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, October 18, 2013 at 8:00 PM
There’s not an official “tournament” in college football that determines a National Champion the way we see in March Madness. But, the nature of how conference competition funnels teams into the postseason serves the same purpose. Virtual “elimination” games are played as part of the regular season schedule leading to conference championship games. Then, conference championship games may eliminate a few more teams. Eventually, you have two fairly obvious teams who should be playing for the crystal football. Sometimes a third team feels like they got hosed.
That elimination process begins in earnest Saturday Night on ABC when #5 Florida State visits #3 Clemson in the ACC Atlantic Division. Obviously, that would be an “Elite Eight” type matchup in March Madness. The winner stays alive for a shot at an undefeated season and a national title appearance. The loser falls off the pace…in a season where having one loss should eliminate you because SO MANY different teams are positioned to run the table.
Other virtual tournament games between now and the bowls:
#1 Alabama vs. #6 LSU
#1 Alabama in the SEC Championship game if they beat LSU
#2 Oregon vs. #13 Stanford and possibly #9 UCLA (maybe UCLA twice!)
#12 Baylor vs. Oklahoma
The winner of #5 FSU/#3 Clemson in the ACC Championship game (maybe vs. #10 Miami)
#4 Ohio State of the Big Ten will have a gauntlet series against potential sleepers rather than “one big game.” Other possibilities from lesser leagues are still in the running (on paper anyway) as well.
Losers of those listed games are unlikely to bubble back to the top to finish in the Top 2 unless they get a lot of help from elsewhere. So…all of this means that Florida State/Clemson is the first truly important “loser leaves town” wrestling battle for the BCS!
Let’s review what each team has done so far this season…
Florida State (-11) won at Pittsburgh 41-13 (winning yardage 533-297)
Florida State (-33) beat Nevada 62-7 (winning yardage 617-214)
Florida State (-40) beat Bethune Cookman 54-6 (winning yardage 492-242)
Florida State (-23) won at Boston College 48-34 (winning yardage 489-398)
Florida State (-16) beat Maryland 63-0 (winning yardage 614-334)
Quarterback Jameis Winston had his national coming out party in the season opener at Pittsburgh. The closest thing to a toe-stubbing came on the road at Boston College when the team lost focus. They made up for that by clobbering Maryland in dominating fashion. Maybe Saturday Night is when we find out that Florida State isn’t quite national championship material yet. Or, maybe this is when FSU makes the media stop talking so much about Alabama and Oregon!
Clemson (+1.5) beat Georgia 38-35 (losing yardage 467-544)
Clemson (-51) beat S. Carolina State 52-13 (winning yardage 512-241)
Clemson (-13) won at NC State 26-14 (winning yardage 415-378)
Clemson (-28) beat Wake Forest 56-7 (losing yardage 573-222)
Clemson (-12) won at Syracuse 49-14 (winning yardage 624-397)
Clemson (-24) beat Boston College 24-14 (winning yardage 496-286)
Clemson’s upset of Georgia was impressive. But, they did benefit from the beginning of Georgia’s horrible injury luck, and were still outgained by 77 yards anyway. Their TV game at NC State looks worse now than it did at the time because NC State has struggled badly since then. Last week’s win vs. Boston College was ugly because they needed a non-offensive TD to get scoreboard distance even with that yardage blowout.
Because there’s some possible evidence in that mix for “pretender” status…Clemson finds themselves AGAIN in position of having to prove themselves as a home underdog in a huge prime time TV game. Even though Clemson has the better poll ranking because of that early win over Georgia, oddsmakers have installed FSU as a field goal favorite.
Current Vegas Line: Florida State by 3, total of 64
The market is saying that Florida State is at least SIX points better on a neutral field. Normally, home field advantage is worth three points in college football…but sometimes Clemson is given more than that because of its great atmosphere. A few weeks ago, that wouldn’t have seemed right. FSU was so impressive vs. Pittsburgh and Maryland that stat-based systems have them even with Alabama.
JIM HURLEY knows that bullying lesser teams doesn’t make someone national championship material. He recognizes that this will be FSU’s toughest test of the regular season until they run into Florida’s defense in the regular season finale. Are the Seminoles ready? The full NETWORK team has been working to answer that question all week. If the game grades out, it will be part of the Saturday packages right here at the website. Maybe it will be a major release. Maybe it will be part of a TV Triple Crown. Maybe the best options are elsewhere. You can purchase the final word with your credit card right here at the website, or call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155.
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