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Can FSU beat Louisville, and still be left out of the College Football Playoff?

FSU lost their star QB, and the backup might be out as well. Could the committee have them as the first P5 undefeated team to not make the Playoff?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 25 Florida State at Florida Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Update 11:40 p.m. Florida State defeats Louisville 16-6 to win the ACC Championship. Whether that’s enough to reach the College Football Playoff over Texas remains to be seen at noon tomorrow.

Update: Georgia lost to Alabama, 27-24, in the SEC Championship. Both teams are now 12-1.


The Florida State Seminoles have done everything right this season.

Since their Week 1 win over LSU they have marched onward, winning every game to head into the ACC Championship as the sole undefeated team in the conference. They rank third in the nation in Strength of Record. And they are the favorites to win the ACC conference championship game at DraftKings Sportsbook.

One would think that all adds up to mean that they are a lock to get into the top four and compete in the College Football Playoff, right?

Wrong — well, maybe wrong.

FSU did everything right, except for one big issue that was out of their control. Starting quarterback Jordan Travis, the heartbeat of this Seminoles team, suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 12 vs. North Alabama of all teams. And Travis’ absence could just end up keeping them out of the top four, despite the very deserving resume.

FSU takes on Louisville in the ACC Championship game on Saturday night, but their fate is up in the air when it should be in their own hands. The issue is that this year’s field is highly competitive at the top. Washington is the undefeated Pac-12 champion, and they are 100% in. When Michigan wins (not if, as they are going to paste Iowa as 22-point favorites), they’ll be the undefeated Big Ten champ.

And let’s say Georgia beats Alabama and grabs the SEC Championship. There’s still a chance, however small, that the committee chooses to put in one-loss Texas, who won the Big XII Championship in a dominant fashion this weekend ahead of the Noles. What if Alabama wins? Who gets left out from a group of a one-loss SEC Champion (Alabama), a one-loss reigning national champion (Georgia), and a one-loss team that beat Alabama (Texas)? Is FSU even in the conversation at that point?

While it would be completely unprecedented to exclude an undefeated Power Five champion from the top four and replace them with a one-loss team, this sport never fails to surprise. The CFP Selection Committee ranks teams “based on strength of schedule, head-to-head results against common opponents, championships won and other factors.”

That “other factors” — in other words, the eye test — may just keep FSU out if they let Louisville hang around. The Noles might need a dominant win to prove that they belong.

You’d rather be FSU with their undefeated campaign and ACC Championship, but a 10-7 win with negative offense might at least make this a conversation.