When you're out of the national title hunt like Baylor and Oklahoma State, all you're left with are "what ifs."
But, hypothetically, how would either of those teams—the top two in the Big 12—stack up against Florida State, the No. 1 team in the country?
The Seminoles haven't played close to the toughest schedule in the country (66th in the Sagarin ratings), but no team has been as dominant from Week 1 to Week 14 as FSU. The 'Noles have outscored opponents by a total of 644 points to 132, a difference of around 43 points per game on average.
At this pace, Florida State will be just shy of 700 points on the season after Saturday's ACC championship against Duke.
Baylor and Oklahoma State are known for big offenses too. The Bears have trended down to a more "modest" 44 points per game over the past five games after averaging 65 ppg through the first half of the season. The Cowboys, meanwhile, have averaged 47.8 ppg over that same five-game span. That's thanks in large part to the switch to quarterback Clint Chelf and the improved running game.
Would a Florida State matchup against either Baylor or Oklahoma State be a shootout, though? Not necessarily. In fact, a Florida State-Oklahoma State game could be lower scoring—relatively speaking, that is.
That's because both defenses are somewhat similar. For one, they rank among the best units in turnover margin. They're also excellent up front at the line of scrimmage, though FSU is a better pass rushing team, and both teams' cornerbacks are good enough to stay with just about any wide receiver group in the country.
Take Baylor's 49-17 loss to the Pokes, for example. Bears quarterback Bryce Petty wasn't pressured a ton, but he had a hard time finding open receivers downfield. In that vein, putting Florida State's receivers against Oklahoma State's defensive backs would be a fascinating matchup and vice versa.
On the other hand, Florida State's defense would probably be able to handle Baylor's wide receivers without issue since the Bears have had a hard time beating jams. The Seminoles, meanwhile, are second in the country in pass efficiency defense.
With lineman Spencer Drango out with a back injury, Baylor's passing game might struggle against Florida State. It could be up to running back Lache Seastrunk to provide a spark in that scenario.
The question, then, would be whether Baylor's defense could keep Florida State's offense under control.
Voting for the Heisman Trophy finishes on Monday, but the general belief is that Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston will be named the most outstanding player in college football. Anytime a team has the best player on the field, it's going to be hard to stop.
Beyond Winston, though, Florida State has a powerful stable of running backs—Devonta Freeman, Karlos Williams and James Wilder Jr.—that Baylor isn't equipped to handle. To put that into context, two of the teams Baylor struggled against defensively this season, Kansas State and Oklahoma State, have solid running games.
Baylor has the speed on defense to go sideline to sideline with any team. If the Seminoles decide to attack up the middle of the defense, though, the Bears would be in trouble.
Ultimately, Florida State would be—and should be—favored against Baylor or Oklahoma State if they met. Of the top two Big 12 teams, however, the Pokes match up better against the Seminoles.
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All stats courtesy of the NCAA.
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