Florida State Rises to No 2: Now They Need to Stay Healthy

Published on 10-Nov-2013 by Chips 10
Football - NCAA / NCAA Football Daily Update

One play away from a season's dreams going up in smoke

So now, all Florida State has to do is cruise toward its conference championship game, survive it, and take its place in the BCS national championship game.

Sounds like Alabama's to-do list.

Of course, the Crimson Tide has more of a challenge in its rivalry game than the Seminoles appear to have. While there is nothing in college football more unpredictable than rivalry games, chances are fair both the current No 1 and No 2 teams will be in good shape.

The Seminoles now have an inside track to the national title game after Oregon got pounded on the Farm last Thursday, a result that has raised two distinctly different conversations across cyberspace:

  • Perspective A: "Oregon is a poser! All style and no substance!"
  • Perspective B: "Hey, SEC, shut up and play a real schedule!"

Feel free to take your pick. Odds are, it'll be whatever suits your purpose. But the common factor in both arguments is the nine-game conference schedule.

The Pac-12 and Big XII have it already. The Big Ten is moving to it. To date, the SEC and ACC aren't. And the AAC doesn't really count right now; its champion is pre-occupied with fending off a non-AQ school -- either Fresno State or Northern Illinois -- for its spot in a BCS bowl and the $17million payday that goes with it.

Setting aside the financial implications for now, a nine-game conference schedule infers more wear and tear on the teams that play it, as well as the possibility of more land mines to traverse. Anecdotal evidence indicates there's something to it:

  • Oregon's 'swing' game is against a Pac-12 South team, such as UCLA, whom they smashed but where QB Marcus Mariota also got his knee nicked to the point that he couldn't run effectively in the next game, which blew out around one-third of the Ducks' playbook. That next game was at Stanford.
  • Alabama's 'swing' game this season is one of this trio: Chattanooga, Georgia State, and Colorado State.
  • Florida State's 'swing' game is one of these: Bethune-Cookman, Nevada, and Idaho.

This, of course, begs two questions:

  • How would the Tide or Noles fare if AJ McCarron or Jameis Winston got dinged in the run-up to a big game?
  • If a run-first QB is the key to Oregon's high-powered offense, what the hell was Mariota still doing in a game where the outcome had long since been decided?

So, maybe good fortune has as much to do with Alabama and Florida State having their spots atop the polls right now. And that good fortune is made possible in part by not playing a nine-game conference schedule.

And for BCS-contending teams that do play nine-game conference schedules, perhaps they should be more concerned about giving additional league-play experience to their second and third units than trying to impress lazy pollsters by covering point spreads and then some.

Ironically, one proponent of the nine-game conference schedule can be found in Tuscaloosa. Nick Saban sees it as inevitable and agrees with it for financial reasons if nothing else. It will surely beat buying wins from cupcakes at $1million a shot, but there's possibly an even more significant consideration.

If the Division I presidents are to be believed and the new selection committee's mandate is to give high priority to strength of schedule when choosing the four national championship contenders from next season onward, then a nine-game conference schedule will be essential. Judging from the committee members' backgrounds, it appears they'll be more data-driven than deferential to big-brand schools and their reputations.

That means the Alabamas and Florida States in college football had best re-visit their scheduling. And the Oregons had best be taking the toll of a harder-hitting schedule into account much more seriously.

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