Florida State should be No. 1 when it arrives in Louisville this Thursday — the defending national champion, undefeated this season, and having won 23 straight games — but the pollsters have outsmarted themselves again.
Why Mississippi State is on top of the polls is a mystery, even more so after struggling against Kentucky last week. Mississippi State was woefully lacking on defense, with nothing resembling a credible pass rush, allowing the UK offense to rack up 504 yards, including 401 yards passing.
Four wins over SEC teams, two over CUSA teams, one over a Sun Belt team and a narrow win over Kentucky are not persuasive.
The sentiment for Mississippi State was largely generated by a 34-19 win over LSU, giving the Bulldogs a 4-0 record after wins over Southern Miss, UAB and South Alabama. It intensified after the Bulldogs defeated three-loss Texas A&M 48-31 and one-loss Auburn 38-23. The lesson here is that wins over SEC teams count more than wins over non-SEC teams.
Florida State, meanwhile, continues to pile up victories, including a win over Clemson while Heisman quarterback Jameis Winston was suspended. The Seminoles made a persuasive argument for moving back to the top spot last week with a 31-27 win against previously-unbeaten and seventh-ranked Notre Dame.
The pollsters, however, failed to grasp the significance of the No. 2 team defeating the No. 7 team and their No. 1 pick escaping against an unranked Kentucky team. These same voters had flipped Florida State and Mississippi State three weeks early, holding a 56-41 win over NC State against Florida State.
One inescapable conclusion is that the pollsters also are holding some of Florida State’s off-the-field issues against the Seminoles. Another is that Mississippi State is living on borrowed time, with games still to come at Alabama and Mississippi.
Despite what the pollsters say, one could reasonably conclude that Florida State has a legitimate claim to being the No. 1 college football team. Florida State has three games remaining after the Thursday night game — against Miami, Boston College and Florida. If they were to wind up undefeated, the Seminoles would deserve to be top-seeded in the national championship playoffs.
While the mindless minions who vote in the polls have deprived UofL fans the opportunity to line up against the No. 1 team, there is little doubt in these parts that Florida State is deserving of the top spot. BCS bowls aside, Thursday night’s game is the most important in the program’s history.