No matter how you evaluate Florida State's season-opening performance against Oklahoma State, the Seminoles should still be considered the No. 1 team in college football.
The defending national champs should be the top-ranked team until—or if—they lose. And the polls, which were released on Tuesday afternoon, reflected that. FSU is No. 1 in the AP poll (with 46 of 59 first-place votes) and in the coaches' poll (with 57 of 62 first-place votes).
A few voters opted to cast votes for other schools, and that's understandable—although it's bizarre that six programs besides FSU received first-place votes in the AP poll. FSU is still the heavyweight champion of college football. Did the Seminoles get knocked down Saturday? Yes. Did they get up and finish off their opponent? Yes. So how can a heavyweight champ be ranked No. 2?
FSU won the title in 2013, but the case for the Seminoles at No. 1 is clear. The Seminoles are missing plenty of pieces from last season, but many of the key parts are back. FSU has a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback in Jameis Winston, a preseason All-American receiver in Rashad Greene, one of the nation's top tight ends in Nick O'Leary and a senior-laden offensive line.
The defense clearly misses tackle Timmy Jernigan. But end Mario Edwards Jr. caused problems up front for Oklahoma State. And the nation's best secondary forced two turnovers.
Some of the nation's other top teams can make arguments for receiving first-place votes. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is fun to watch. Georgia tailback Todd Gurley was electric. Alabama has a dynamic running game in T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry, and quarterback Blake Sims may be the answer for the Crimson Tide.
But the fact remains that FSU has Winston along with more talent and depth than any other program at the moment. The Seminoles also have fewer question marks than the other top-10 programs.
FSU's win on Saturday was far from a work of art. But it was gritty. And it showed the Seminoles' resolve.
The 37-31 win over the Cowboys was a good example of a Week 1 game. The Seminoles were sloppy and sluggish at times. There was a lot for fans to dissect, and there are plenty of concerns about the interior of the defensive line and the depth at receiver.
"We're still a work in progress," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said on Monday. "We have a lot of things to work on, but I think most everybody in America has at this time."
There were also plenty of positives, including a 203-yard performance from receiver Rashad Greene and a dazzling touchdown run from Jameis Winston. Nate Andrews' interception return for a touchdown was a significant play early in the game, and P.J. Williams forced Oklahoma State quarterback J.W. Walsh to fumble in the fourth quarter.
This wasn't a stellar game by Winston, but he still completed 25 of 40 passes for 370 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. And, really, even on a day when he was hit-and-miss, he helped lead FSU to six scoring drives (three Roberto Aguayo field goals, Mario Pender's touchdown run, Winston's run and Greene's 50-yard catch and run).
Former FSU coach Bobby Bowden used to talk about how a program was built. He said the transition began with losing games badly to losing games by a small margin. Then teams learned how to make a play or two here and there and turn close games that could go either way into wins. And then those narrow wins would become double-digit wins.
This was true during Bowden's early years in the 1970s. And it is true of how Fisher rebuilt the program in his first few seasons before FSU won the title last season.
FSU, which had to replace 10 starters, isn't nearly the powerhouse that the 2013 team showed last fall. But it says plenty about a team that the Seminoles played at a neutral site (although Stillwater, Oklahoma, is far closer to Arlington, Texas, than Tallahassee, Florida) and fought through a win.
This week's matchup against The Citadel isn't a marquee game. But FSU has plenty of challengers ahead with Clemson (Sept. 20), Notre Dame (Oct. 18) and Louisville (Oct. 30).
Only time will tell if FSU remains unbeaten. But it should be clear that the Tigers, Fighting Irish and Cardinals will be trying to unseat the nation's top team.
Bob Ferrante is the Florida State Lead Writer for Bleacher Report, all quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bob on Twitter. All recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!