How Big Of An Underdog Would Florida State Have Been In The College Football Playoff?

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Written By Kelley Ford | Last Updated
florida state

College Football Playoff odds went haywire after the first undefeated Power 5 conference champion was left out. Never before had a team ranked outside the committee’s top six heading into conference championship game weekend made the four-team field. Never before had my final Most-Deserving Rankings not matched the Committee’s final four, in order, no less. But on December 3, 2023, a date that will live in infamy for Florida State fans, all of that changed.

FSU is now a underdog vs. No. 6 Georgia in the Orange Bowl, as bowl game odds are now available. Despite being perfect, the Seminoles will not have the opportunity to compete for the national championship. But what if they did? Using my power ratings, I can generate an expected point spread for every game. So, how big of an underdog would this No. 5 Florida State team have been vs. No. 1 Michigan, No. 2 Washington, No. 3 Texas, or No. 4 Alabama?

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KFord College Football Ratings

  1. Michigan – 28.0 points per game better than the average FBS team on a neutral field
  2. Ohio State – 26.6
  3. Oregon – 24.9
  4. Penn State – 24.8
  5. Georgia – 24.7
  6. Alabama – 23.4
  7. Texas – 23.2
  8. Oklahoma – 22.3
  9. LSU – 21.6
  10. Notre Dame – 20.8
  11. Florida State – 20.6
  12. Kansas State – 18.8
  13. Washington – 18.0

You can get mad at the list above if you want. And if you want to nitpick a point here or a spot there, that’s fine. But I’m telling you, this is how Vegas makes spreads. Dozens of accounts are in my DMs weekly, telling me they used my numbers and made money betting on college football. 

Like it or not, the list above is a pretty good indicator of projected team strength in college football.

A 13-person committee in a conference room at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, Texas, collectively acted on what they thought – Alabama is likely a better team than Florida State, especially without star quarterback Jordan Travis. My ratings project the same. 

However, that means the committee concluded metrics were more important than what they knew – Florida State was 13-0 with an ACC Championship.

What Was FSU Quarterback Jordan Travis Worth To The Spread?

Now, it’s important to note that Florida State’s rating of 20.6 does not explicitly account for Jordan Travis’ injury. The Seminoles’ power rating was 22.0 going into the North Alabama game in which Travis was injured. 

So the Noles have been downgraded, especially on the offensive side of the ball, as that unit has fallen from No. 9 to No. 14 in my unit power rankings. The model knows something is very wrong with the offense, but it doesn’t explicitly know that it’s the quarterback who is out. 

If we assume a seven-point deduction to account for Travis being injured (which, for the record, I think is aggressive), Florida State’s power rating would be 13.6. Let’s use that number for this exercise.

Projected Florida State College Football Playoff Spreads

These hypothetical CFP spreads are for matchups on a neutral field. 

  • Florida State +14.5 vs No. 1 Michigan
  • Florida State +4.5 vs No. 2 Washington
  • Florida State +9.5 vs No. 3 Texas
  • Florida State +10 vs No. 4 Alabama

You might think these spreads don’t look large enough, especially that Alabama one. But keep in mind, 4th & 31 against 6-6 Auburn less than 10 days ago is all that stands between us and a CFP that doesn’t include the SEC. 

If we’re being honest, if Alabama lost to Auburn and then beat Georgia, the Committee likely would have put Georgia in before Florida State. Because, after all, Georgia would be favored against the Seminoles on a neutral field. So why is Florida State No. 5 and Georgia No. 6, you ask? Great question; I’d love to know the answer myself.

Perhaps more important to remember when looking at these projected spreads is just how good this Florida State defense is. It’s a top-five unit nationally that has gotten even better in the absence of Travis. If only there was a way that we could have seen how they would actually perform against the nation’s very best. In a playoff-type format, perhaps. Oh, wait…

Would Florida State Have Had a Chance in the CFP?

For reference, TCU was around a 7.5-point underdog to Michigan in last year’s CFP. We know how that ended up. 

If Florida State would have gotten the 3-seed, it’s likely they would have opened as somewhere around a touchdown underdog against Washington. So, it’s absolutely possible the Seminoles could have won a semifinal game. 

As the 4-seed against Michigan, the spread likely would have been around or above two touchdowns. But double-digit underdogs win relatively frequently in college football. Shoot, Washington was a 10-point underdog against Oregon just a few days ago and won outright! It’s why we play the games!

Unfortunately, a small group of individuals decided what they thought they knew in theory was more important than what we all actually knew based on reality

Florida State earned the right to compete in the College Football Playoff. That right was unjustly taken away from them, and the sport of college football is undoubtedly worse off because of it.

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