With the first release of the BCS standings, the debate over who should play in the national championship has already started.
Alabama is a clear No. 1 in the BCS standings, but Florida State and Oregon aren’t separated by much for the No. 2 spot. The Seminoles are No. 2 after destroying Clemson 51-14 last Saturday, but the Ducks have ground to gain in the computer polls.
A lot can happen in college football over the next seven weeks, so it’s no guarantee the Seminoles and Ducks finish unbeaten. However, if those two teams and Alabama have a perfect record in December, it will be an intriguing debate to see who plays in Pasadena in early January.
Oregon or Florida State: Which Team Should be Ranked No. 2 Behind Alabama?
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
I would give a slight edge to Florida State for the No. 2 spot – for now. The Seminoles’ win over Clemson on Saturday was the most-convincing victory over a top-10 team so far this year. Florida State is no longer rebuilding when personnel departs for the NFL, as the Seminoles have better depth than at any point under coach Jimbo Fisher. Quarterback Jameis Winston is outstanding, but the defense deserves some credit, especially with a new coordinator and seven new starters stepping into the lineup this year. If you throw out the FCS opponents both teams have played, Florida State’s opponents have a tougher win/loss record 21-12 to 18-24 for Oregon. However, the upcoming schedule favors the Ducks, as Stanford, Oregon State and UCLA should all be ranked among the top 20 teams in the nation when they play Oregon. The Seminoles still have to play Miami and could rematch against the Hurricanes or face Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship, but there’s not another likely top-25 matchup, and rival Florida is struggling just to get bowl eligible. I’m not a huge fan of the playoff, but it would be a shame to see Florida State or Oregon get left out of the picture if both finish unbeaten this year. As I mentioned previously, the edge at No. 2 for now needs to go to Florida State. But at the end of the year, if both teams are unbeaten, the resume favors the Ducks.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Right now, it’s understandable that Florida State is No. 2 in the BCS, and a great debate could be had as to which team is more talented, better coached, etc. But if both teams run the table and win their conference championships, then the Oregon Ducks deserve to be ahead of the Seminoles in the final standings. The Ducks play a dramatically more difficult schedule as games with UCLA, Stanford, Oregon State, Utah and Arizona still remain, while Florida State has Miami and a reeling Florida team. The quarterbacks are comparable. The head coaches are comparable. The offensive numbers and margins of victory are comparable. But the strength of schedule is not even close. Oregon went on the road and beat ACC foe Virginia 59-10 in Week 2 and that might be the 11th toughest game the Ducks play this season. Florida State has six "Virginias" on its schedule by the name of Boston College, Wake Forest, Syracuse, NC State, Pitt and Maryland.
David Fox (@DavidFox615)
I am going to do some major equivocating here. Florida State deserves to be No. 2 right now. However, if both teams remain undefeated, Oregon won’t just have a claim to being No. 2, but a legitimate claim for the top spot. If you’re asking which team is the better one, it’s impossible to know at this point of the season. Certainly, we’ve seen this nucleus at Oregon succeed over a longer period of time than the one at Florida State. I may pick Oregon on a neutral field. That said, Florida State has achieved more this season so far than Oregon. The schedules are comparable, if Florida State’s hasn’t been a bit tougher so far. The Clemson win alone was more impressive than any single win by a title contender against another good team that we’ve seen this season. As much as Jameis Winston deserves accolades, the defense was just as dominant on the road against the Tigers. Oregon was just as dominant against rival Washington on the road, but the Huskies haven’t distinguished themselves since. That said, Oregon over the final five games faces five teams ranked in the top 30 of Jeff Sagarin’s predictor rankings (i.e., the rankings taking margin of victory into account, not the ranking used in the BCS). Florida State faces three of those teams all year. Provided every possible undefeated team stays that way at the end of the year, Oregon deserves that No. 1 spot as much as any ... just not No. 2 as of Oct. 23.
No team was more impressive this past weekend in college football than Florida State. The Seminoles, behind redshirt freshman sensation Jameis Winston, completely and utterly dominated the then-No. 3 ranked Tigers in Death Valley. That said, I would still side with Oregon for the No. 2 position behind Alabama because the Ducks have been just as dominant as the 'Noles, and I think, the Pac-12 conference, top-to-bottom, is better when compared to the ACC this season. As good as Jimbo Fisher's team looked this past Saturday, they got a bit of a scare at Boston College a few weeks ago, eventually pulling away in the second half for a 48-34 win. Oregon's smallest margin of victory so far has been a 21-point win at then-No. 16 Washington. There are a lot of similarities between both of these teams (Heisman-contending, dual-threat quarterbacks, explosive offenses, solid, all-around defenses), so I don't think you can go wrong with either team at No. 2. Still, if I had to cast my vote, I would take Mark Helfrich and his high-flying Ducks.