Like it or not — and those who do not like grow larger by the week — Florida State has the clearest path to the inaugural College Football Playoff.
The Seminoles are one of four undefeated teams. One of the two others — Mississippi State and Mississippi — is guaranteed a loss. The other is Marshall, which won’t be part of the playoff.
No team is in better shape than Florida State, as uncomfortable as that makes many feel with many missteps of quarterback Jameis Winston.
The publicity building toward last week’s clash with Notre Dame included Florida State coaching legend Bobby Bowden warning on ESPN, “He’s got to grow up. … He does things that kids in grammar school or kids in junior high would do.”
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The obscene shouting on campus that got him suspended for the Clemson game and the revelation of 2,000 authenticated autographed items, although Florida State says Winston wasn’t paid for any of them, are this year’s unwanted stories. They follow the 2012 sexual assault allegation.
Bo Jackson has said he’s reached out to Winston in an attempt to provide guidance. Herschel Walker said he wouldn’t consider Winston for the Heisman Trophy “until is act is cleaned up.”
But Florida State appears to be on a “deal with it,” run after surviving Notre Dame on Saturday. The Seminoles were outgained by nearly 150 yards, had the ball for six fewer minutes and didn’t lead until 7 1/2 minutes remained.
Offense pass interference was called on the Irish on what would be been the go-ahead touchdown with second remaining and Florida State triumphed 31-27.
Sunday, the Seminoles maintained their No. 2 ranking in the polls and with five regular season games remaining, plus the ACC Championship Game, they have the softest schedule remaining of any of the contenders. The toughest test figures to be the next game, at Louisville on Oct. 30, a Thursday.
After that, it’s Virginia, at Miami., Fla., Boston College, Florida and if it wins the division the ACC title game.
And then probably the College Football Playoff, and college football will have to deal with it.
Trevone Boykin to Josh Doctson
The TCU battery connected seven times for 225 yards. In a span of three snaps, they hooked up for touchdown passes of 77 and 84 yards. Boykin, perhaps the most improved player in the Big 12, finished with a career-best 410 passing yards as the Horned Frogs beat Oklahoma State 42-9.
In the last two games, Southern California quarterback Cody Kessler had thrown one touchdown pass. In Saturday’s 58-26 victory over Colorado, he threw seven. That’s a school record, and it matches the Pac-12 mark established by Arizona State’s Mike Pagel in 1981.
The Mountaineers handled No. 4 Baylor, moved into a second place tie in the Big 12 and jumped into the polls. West Virginia meets two other top contenders — TCU and Kansas State in Morgantown.
Were the Aggies really the nation’s sixth ranked team? A month ago they were 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the league, but three straight losses, the latest an embarrassing 59-0 walloping at Alabama, has them reeling.
The Sooners may have dropped from the College Football Playoff with a 31-30 home loss to Kansas State. Oklahoma kicker Michael Hunnicutt missed a 19-yard field goal late and K-State understands that pain having missed three field goals in its loss to Auburn. By the season’s end, Oklahoma may have provided a lesson in putting too much stock in a big bowl victory from the previous season.
North Carolina State
After an encouraging 4-0 start, the Wolfpack has dropped four straight to sink to the bottom of the Atlantic Division. N.C. State has to find two more victories to become bowl eligible in Coach Dave Doeren’s second season.
COMMITTEE OF ONE
The College Football Playoff projection, if the season ended today
Mississippi State vs. Auburn
Florida State vs. Mississippi
Knocking on the door: Alabama, Oregon, Michigan State, TCU, Kansas State, Notre Dame, Georgia, Ohio State
RANKING THE BIG 12
1. Kansas State
d. Oklahoma 31-30
Two stragith Ws at Norman
d. Oklahoma State 42-9
Responded well to Baylor loss
3. West Virginia
d. Baylor 41-27
at Oklahoma State
Students riot after Baylor W, bad look
l. West Virginia 41-27
18 penalties, 215 yards for Bears
l. Kansas State 31-30
So many mistakes vs. Wildcats
6. Oklahoma State
l. TCU 42-9
Winning streak ends with thud
d. Iowa State 48-45
at Kansas State
Breaks Iowa State heart again
8. Texas Tech
d. Kansas 34-21
First victory in a month
9. Iowa State
l. Texas 48-45
Cyclones had their chances
l. Texas Tech 34-21
Jayhawks more competitive under Bowen
RANKING THE SEC
1. Mississippi State
Another week to enjoy top spot
d. Tennessee 34-3
Slow start, fast finish vs, Vols
Two weeks to think about loss
d. Texas A&M 59-0
Hit stride vs. Aggies
d. Arkansas 45-32
Dawgs get first East victory vs. West
d. Kentucky 41-3
Tigers put it all together vs. Wildcats
d. Florida 42-13
Good Tigers, bad Tigers seeek consistency
8. Texas A&M
l. Alabama 59-0
Problems abound in College Station
l. LSU 41-3
Momemtum stops with a thud
l. Georgia 45-32
Bielema still looking for SEC victory
11. South Carolina
d. Furman 41-10
Confidence building game
l. Missouri 42-13
Muschamp days are numbered
l. Mississippi 34-3
Step back for Vols
No answer at quarterback