Florida State won the game but lost a beauty contest on Saturday.

The Seminoles spotted rival Florida a 12-0 lead, and trailed 15-14 in the fourth quarter, before running back Trey Benson scored the last of his 3 touchdowns to give the Noles a 24-15 victory.

The College Football Playoff selection committee had dropped FSU to No. 5 the previous week after it lost star quarterback Jordan Travis to a gruesome leg injury in a home win over North Alabama on Nov. 18.

No. 3 Ohio State did lose to No. 2 Michigan, so there’s still a path to the Playoff for FSU (12-0), which will face Louisville (10-2) in the ACC Championship Game on Saturday in Charlotte.

Unlike previous years in the 4-team Playoff, there are also realistic scenarios for even an unbeaten FSU to get left out.

When the CFP was formed, before the 2014 season, the cold computer numbers of the BCS era were set aside in favor of a human committee. With Travis’ injury, and how backup Tate Rodemaker looked against Florida (12-25, 134 yards), that might wind up working against FSU.

Louisville losing to SEC rival Kentucky on Saturday certainly didn’t help for those who are partial to comparing teams and common opponents.

Even the computers are split on FSU. Two used in the old BCS formula (Wolfe and Billingsley) have FSU at No. 4 and 2 (Colley and Massey) have FSU outside the top 4. Massey has FSU at No. 8.

Rodemaker will get another chance to impress the CFP committee against Louisville. Two more ACC teams did jump in the CFP top 25 last week — NC State at 22 and Clemson at 24 — but the Noles only faced (and beat) the Tigers.

The clearest path for FSU to make the Playoff would logically be for the unbeaten conference leaders (Georgia, Michigan and Washington) staying that way.

If a cluster of 1-loss teams — Alabama, Texas, Oregon — enter the conversation, that could potentially put another wrench in FSU’s Playoff dreams.

As it is, missing Travis will be a difficult enough obstacle to overcome.

Starting over

Duke joined Syracuse on the coaching carousel on Sunday, albeit not by choice.

Mike Elko, according to multiple reports, will leave the Blue Devils after going 16-9 in 2 years to replace Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M.

Elko, 46, was the Aggies’ defensive coordinator for 4 years, from 2018 to ’21, before he was hired by Duke AD Nina King in December 2021.

Duke went 1-17 in the ACC in the 2 years before Elko was hired. His 2 Duke teams went 9-7 in league play. He is the first Duke coach since Steve Spurrier in 1989 to get hired for another Power 5 job.

King will have to go back to work with her third high-profile hire in football and men’s basketball in her short tenure.

Syracuse decided to fire Dino Babers after 8 seasons. The Orange went 5-6 under Babers and then clinched a bowl spot with a 35-31 home win over Wake Forest on Saturday under interim coach Nunzio Campanile.

Both are difficult jobs, and for different reasons.

With Duke, it’s because of the size of the school and the relative lack of interest in football compared the blueblood men’s basketball program.

Syracuse football has plenty of history, but that doesn’t exactly move the recruiting needle in 2023. The Orange have been slow on the NIL uptick as well.

Happy ending

Brennan Armstrong could not have picked a better opponent to close out his ACC career against. Whether with Virginia or NC State, the 6th-year quarterback has played hi best games against North Carolina.

Armstrong was back at it on Saturday night in NC State’s 39-20 home win over the Tar Heels. Armstrong threw for 334 yards and 3 touchdowns, both season-highs in what has been an eventful season. He turned in his sterling effort on Saturday with a painful rib injury that limited him in practice, coach Dave Doeren said after the game.

In 4 career starts against UNC (3 with UVa), Armstrong completed 90 of 142 passes for 1,338 yards with 10 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He also added 136 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. His teams went 2-2 in those games. Armstrong had a career-high 554 passing yards in a 59-39 road loss to the Tar Heels in 2021.

After getting benched in October after a 3-interception performance in a home loss to Louisville, it certainly didn’t look like Armstrong would get a last crack at UNC.

He was booed by some of the home fans the following week in a home win over Marshall when offensive coordinator Robert Anae used him in a goal-line package to replace MJ Morris.

But since Morris’ decision to redshirt after NC State’s home win over Miami on Nov. 4, Armstrong has helped the Wolfpack win 3 straight to close out the regular season.

Armstrong has taken the ups and downs in stride, or as Wolfpack cornerback Aydan White notably said, “like a grown-ass man.”

In the bowl game, Armstrong has a chance to do something only quarterback Philip Rivers has done in school history: help the Wolfpack record a double-digit win season.

In 2002, Rivers’ junior season, NC State went 11-3. It’s the only time in the Wolfpack’s 118-year history it has won at least 10 games.

The 10-win mark eluded Doeren’s best teams in 2017 and ’18. The 2021 team took a 9-3 record into the bowl season but the Holiday Bowl was canceled when UCLA pulled the plug at the last-minute due to a sweep of COVID-19 issues on its defense.

Virginia is the only ACC team that hasn’t had a 10-win season, and there are only 4 other Power 5 schools that haven’t recorded one since State’s last in ’02.

Good teams win, great teams cover

NC State’s win over UNC was their 7th as an underdog since the start of the 2021 season. That’s second in the ACC to Georgia Tech, which has 9 over that span.

But the Wolfpack is an ACC-best 7-7 (straight up) as an underdog, compared to 9-16 for the Yellow Jackets.

On the flip side, UNC lost for the 10th time as a favorite on Saturday. That’s the most losses by an ACC team since 2021. The Tar Heels have the 4th-worst win percentage as a favorite.

Again, here come the Yellow Jackets. They have the worst record (straight up) as a favorite over the past 3 seasons at 5-6.