Florida State may very well be the best team in the country. If it was ranked No. 1 in the week's latest standings, that would be reflective of both the dominance FSU has demonstrated so far this season as well as the pure talent that the Seminoles have in their possession.
But since suggesting that the well-oiled Alabama death machine is anything but the best team in the country is an argument that will be heard on deaf ears until the Tide lose a game, one must settle for the winnable debate that the Florida State Seminoles should be the No. 2 team in the nation.
If FSU had been ranked, say, in the Top 10, then this debate wouldn't even be an issue. Oregon has the advantage of starting off so high, and FSU has had to claw its way into the premier positions. It's a simple thing called confirmation bias, which is defined as "the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one's existing beliefs or theories."
With each Oregon win, it simply serves as a reason for the voter to go: "Wow, look at me! The thing I thought is turning out to be right; let's keep it going!" So long as Oregon keeps winning, so long that it'll be ranked No. 2.
But is it fair? Let's look at some comparisons between the two teams:
|Oregon vs. Florida State|
|Points per game||55.6||52.6|
|Points allowed per game||16.9||13|
|Margin of victory over ranked opponents||24.5||50|
|Best win||No. 12 UCLA (42-14)||No. 3 Clemson (51-14)|
|ESPN, Sagarin rankings|
Oregon holds the edge in points per game, if only by an average of three points. FSU on the whole seems to be the more complete team, one with both the video game-like offense and terrifying defense. Its best win, Clemson, was a team that had national title aspirations and only got to double-digit points in the waning minutes of the game. Oregon scored 21 points in the fourth quarter against UCLA, 14 of which came with under 10 minutes to go.
Florida State is also the team that somehow put up 35 points in a single quarter against a FBS opponent. Yes, it was NC State, but it is still a conference opponent, one that upset a Top Five FSU team at that. The most that Oregon has put up in a single quarter? Twenty-nine, against the dismal 3-4 Colorado Buffaloes.
The Ducks have a chance to prove themselves with new No. 5 Stanford looming for a November 7 date, where they will either earn their second-place ranking or falter once again when it all counts.
Florida State is unfortunately in the position of crossing fingers and hoping, as its schedule doesn't allow opportunity for the 'Noles to jump back into second.
It's understandable that the nation, or at least the common voter, wants to see Alabama vs. Oregon, but this goes beyond the "well, it's the matchup that should've happened for the last couple of years." This Florida State team is terrifying, unfathomable a year after losing 11 players to the NFL draft.
For years, the public has been clamoring for a team that can uproot the SEC's dominance, one that can go head-to-head with anybody in the nation and make them feel foolish for even thinking they had a chance. Oregon has been looked at as that team, despite already falling to Auburn in the 2011 BCS Championship, but one need not look farther than Tallahassee for the team that has the best shot at ending the SEC's reign of terror.
If only the voters could recognize that.