Florida State University

Commentary | Florida State comes up short on strength of schedule

There are more than 30 reasons why Florida State should not be in college football's final four, and it has nothing to do with Jameis Winston.

If FSU goes undefeated through the rest of its made-for-sleep schedule, the best the Seminoles deserve is a play-in game.

OK, we know that's not going to happen, but if the selection of the four playoff teams was fair it would be mandatory.

You've got to play more than one competitive opponent and at least one on the road, which FSU has not.

The book "Scorecasting" shows that referee bias plays a role in home advantage, which might explain why Notre Dame's touchdown to win the game was nullified against FSU.

The selection committee has four items it has been mandated to consider.

After conference champion, strength of schedule is supposed to be a dominant factor, and this is where FSU falls far short, no matter what system is used.

It also shows why the playoff system figures to fail, unless the committee can show some gumption and make strength of schedule a deal breaker if warranted.

Anyway you look at it or analyze it, FSU has by far the weakest schedule of any team seriously contending for the final four.

The NCAA method, which is open to criticism for just using the winning percentages of Football Bowl Subdivision opponents, has FSU with the 47th-toughest schedule.

Phil Steele, which has a more sophisticated rating system, rated FSU's schedule before the season at No. 46. Most of the up-to-date strength of schedule ratings have FSU in the 33 to 45 range.

FSU's biggest problem is playing in the ACC, which is weakest of the five power conferences. In fact, if you take FSU and Clemson out of the ACC, it would be a challenge for any of the remaining teams to win the AAC, Conference USA or Mountain West.

Team Rankings has Clemson as the ACC team with the toughest schedule, which is ranked 30th. FSU is 32nd.

East Carolina, the top team in the AAC, has beaten Virginia Tech and North Carolina.

The ACC is 3-9 against out of conference teams currently ranked.

Though strength of schedule is important, it is doubtful FSU would not be selected for the playoffs if the Noles finish the regular season unbeaten. However, one loss could do them in.

FSU's biggest victory is

last week's close home win over Notre Dame on a controversial call at the end.

The Noles don't fare well in common opponents. FSU barely beat Oklahoma State 37-31 on a neutral site in its season opener, while TCU in a home game demolished OSU 42-9 last week.

Sports Analytics, which Vegas and other betting sites use, has FSU 18th in its FBS rankings.

The four-team playoffs were designed to encourage football teams to beef up their schedules to try to avoid what happened in pre-BCS 1984 when BYU ran through an unparalleled weak schedule and then beat unranked Michigan in the Holiday Bowl to win national title or in 2007, when LSU became the only team to win a BCS national title with two losses.

USF seeks streak

USF can prove it is possible to get a signature win over a 1-5 team.

A 2-4 record plays into the equation.

But the magnitude of USF's 38-30 comeback victory over Tulsa after being down 27-7 at halftime has yet to be determined.

Some argue USF should've never been down to the Golden Hurricane by that big a margin and that USF head coach Willie Taggart falls short in his comparison to Jim Leavitt, who started the program.

This is like comparing apples to oranges.

Tulsa is third in the AAC in total offense and has a quarterback in Dane Evans who is 20th nationally in passing yards per game. USF's defense held the Golden Hurricane to three second-half points.

Leavitt was a good coach for the Bulls, arguably the best. But when he started the program, he was playing I-AA competition and got a big boost when USF joined the Big East and became a BCS school.

Hurricane hot seat

There is a lot of talk about Florida's Will Muschamp and Michigan's Brady Hoke being on the hot seat. Now they may be burning, but Miami's Al Golden also is feeling a lot of heat and worse is that it is coming from former players.

Palmetto quarterback Jack Allison, who has committed to Miami, hopefully will reconsider and take visits to other schools. If Golden gets canned, there are no guarantees the new coach will not withdraw the offer. You want to keep your options open.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter @ADellSports.