You can’t ask for more from Florida State than winning every game on its schedule.

The 13-0 Seminoles were the first (and last!) unbeaten “Power 5” champion to get left out of the 4-team College Football Playoff.

What could FSU have done different?

The obvious answer here is to turn back the clock and keep quarterback Jordan Travis from getting injured in the North Alabama win on Nov. 18.

Travis’ absence was the primary reason given by CFP committee chair Boo Corrigan for FSU getting jumped by SEC champion Alabama. Travis was named the ACC’s offensive player of the year earlier in the week.

Playing better without Travis, at least on offense, also would have been useful. FSU averaged 38.3 points per game with Travis over the first 10 games. In the past 2 games without him, the number dipped to 20.0.

As the “blame game” rages from Tallahassee, did the ACC actually fail FSU?

On the surface, yes, but not in any way the league could have actually controlled.

The graphic that was flashed on the ESPN screen when Alabama was picked over FSU, the Seminoles’ strength of schedule (No. 55 by ESPN’s FPI) was noticeably worse than Alabama’s (No. 5 by ESPN’s FPI).

Statistically, FSU ended up playing the easiest conference schedule (24-40 ACC record by its 8 opponents). Alabama’s 8 SEC opponents were a combined 28-36, by comparison. The biggest boost on Alabama’s schedule was 12-1 Texas from the Big 12 — the team they lost to.

So did the rest of the ACC fail FSU?

The ACC went 10-9 against “Power 5” opponents outside of league play, only the Pac-12 (7-3) was better. The ACC went 6-4 against the SEC.

The SEC went 7-9 against P5 teams. Its best win outside of the SEC — by the final CFP ranking — was Mississippi State’s home win over Arizona (No. 14) on Sept. 9.

Seems kinda far-fetched that would be a reason to put Alabama in over FSU.

Truth is there is one conference that let FSU down and it wasn’t the ACC.

FSU played and beat 2 SEC teams. Their rival, Florida, was bad. The Gators finished 5-7. No help there.

LSU (No. 13 in the final CFP ranking) is FSU’s best win. The Tigers finished 6-2 in the league, after being picked to win the SEC West. Since Alabama also beat LSU, no help there, either.

If Florida was competent and LSU was the team it was supposed to be, how do we look at FSU?

 

And then there’s Georgia. The Bulldogs had won 29 straight games. One more, over Alabama in the SEC title game, and there would have been 4 unbeaten P5 champions. The committee would have been more willing to take the easy route.

So if you’re an FSU fan and you want to blame any conference, blame the SEC.

Instead, Alabama’s win set in motion what will be a long, difficult offseason for the ACC on the public relations-front and with FSU’s behind-the-scenes maneuvering to get out of the league.

While not funny in Tallahassee, it is fitting that the season started with FSU complaining and ends the same way. The ACC will not be laughing when the Seminoles do break away, which seems to have been hastened by the events of the weekend.

Guess again

Even before NIL and the transfer portal, preseason predictions were hard. With them? It’s going to take the people who vote in the preseason poll a minute to catch up.

The first year without the division format wasn’t a great start for the 176 folks who gathered in Charlotte in July to vote.

Only 1 team, out of 14, finished in the slot it was projected to in the preseason. Duke went 4-4 in the league and finished tied for 6th (with Clemson and UNC).

 

Four (FSU, NC State, Virginia and Syracuse) teams come within 1 spot of their projected finish. That’s not bad.

The biggest “overachiever,” in terms of projection, was Georgia Tech, which finished 8 spots ahead of the preseason slot.

Clemson and Wake Forest were the biggest underachievers, dropping 5 spots from their preseason pick.

The stat that matters

Every coach has their own favorite stat. Some like turnover margin, others prefer yards per play or points per possession.

Usually one of the best barometers is one of the simplest: point differential.

Not surprisingly, FSU led the ACC in point differential over the 8-game regular-season schedule. The Seminoles were +136 on the season. They scored the 2nd-most points in league play (272) and allowed the 2nd-fewest (136). Louisville ranked 2nd in the ACC with a +87, followed by Virginia Tech +66 and NC State +46.

 

FSU’s +136 ranked 7th among “Power 5” teams.

 

On the list of reasons Syracuse is ready to move on to 2024, the Orange ranked last in the ACC at -113. Future ACC member Stanford (-178) had them covered. Only SEC doormat Vanderbilt was worse than the Cardinal.

Don’t trust Miami

As you make your picks for your bowl pool, curse Wake Forest for not making the postseason. Over the past 10 seasons, the Demon Deacons under Dave Clawson have the best bowl winning percentage (.714) among ACC teams.

That leaves statistical stalwarts Duke (4-2) and Syracuse (2-1) to carry the conference banner.

One team not to trust?

Miami has been bad in bowls. The Hurricanes are still considered a draw for television, based on their national brand name, but they’ve been awful in the postseason.

 

They’re 1-7 over the past 10 years and 3-11 since joining the ACC in 2004.