Nick Saban Is Right to Say Florida State Has a Case to Be No. 1

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterNovember 21, 2013

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If the chalk holds and No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Florida State stay unblemished between now and the first weekend of December, the two college football heavyweights will meet in Pasadena for the BCS national championship.

Alabama's presence in this discussion isn't shocking. The Crimson Tide have won two straight BCS titles, three of the last four and have asserted themselves as the first true college football dynasty of the BCS era.

Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher
Florida State head coach Jimbo FisherStreeter Lecka/Getty Images

Florida State started the season 11th in the AP poll and 12th in the USA Today coaches poll and has worked its way up into position to play for the title.

Which team has a better resume?

The Seminoles, according to Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

"If you look at the whole body of work," Saban told Michael Casagrande of, "and the way they beat people, they're arguably the best team in the country right now. And they weren't that way when (Jimbo Fisher) went there, so he made a significant amount of improvement."

So what's Saban doing here? Playing coy? Providing motivation to his own team? Pulling a "Lou Holtz" and talking up his opponent?

All of the above, really. And he's right to do it.

TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 26:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide prepares to enter the field with his team prior to facing the Tennessee Volunteers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 26, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Alabama has earned the benefit of the doubt in the public eye by consistently winning at an elite level, which is a big reason why the Crimson Tide have held down the No. 1 spot in virtually every human poll since the start of the season.

But Florida State's body of work through the lens of this season is incredibly impressive. The Seminoles are winning games by an average margin of 41.6 points per game and have the nation's fourth-best total defense (271.4 yards per game), second-best scoring offense (52.7 points per game) and third-best scoring defense (11.1 points per game).

Florida State DB Lamarcus Joyner
Florida State DB Lamarcus JoynerMike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Sure, the team's schedule isn't anything to write home about. But what the Seminoles are doing to opponents is incredibly impressive. In years in which a team wasn't the midst of a dynasty, it would probably earn them a few more first-place votes from voters.

Alabama is no slouch either.

The Crimson Tide boast the nation's fifth-best defense (272.8 yards per game), the top scoring defense (10.2 points per game) and the third-best rush defense (91.1 yards per game).

Simply put, Alabama and Florida State have separated from the other undefeated teams in the country and are remarkably similar in terms of team defense, talent level and offensive efficiency. 

This isn't a new discussion. Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel wrote in early November that the Seminoles looked like the top team in the country.

Week 13 BCS Standings
TeamBCS AVGCoaches PollHarris PollComputer AVG
1. Alabama.99141 (.9961)1 (.9981)1 (.980)
2. Florida State.96612 (.9594)2 (.9589)1 (.980)
3. Ohio State.88693 (.9058)3 (.9048)5 (.850)
4. Baylor.88564 (.8942)4 (.8926)3 (.870)
5. Oregon.79175 (.7942)5 (.8008)6 (.780)

The BCS computers agree that this should at least be a legitimate conversation. The two teams chimed in with the exact same computer average in the most recent BCS standings at .980, with Alabama separating itself quite a bit in the two human polls—the Harris poll and the coaches poll—that make up the BCS standings.

Plus, Saban always wants his team to strive for perfection.

In a week in which the upcoming game against Chattanooga is largely an afterthought and all eyes are pointed toward Auburn and perhaps the biggest Iron Bowl ever, giving his team a little more motivation doesn't hurt.

Saban's tactics work, and while saying Florida State is arguably the best team in the country is a reasonable conversation to have, it's also a way to keep his team's eye on the prize.

The prize of perfection.

It just so happens that it may have to go through "the best team in the nation" in Pasadena to get there.


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