Florida State Football's Road to Making the College Football Playoff

Bob Ferrante@@bobferranteContributor IOctober 29, 2014

Jimbo Fisher and FSU are No. 2 in the playoff standings with five regular-season games (plus a potential ACC championship game) left.
Jimbo Fisher and FSU are No. 2 in the playoff standings with five regular-season games (plus a potential ACC championship game) left.STEVEN CANNON/Associated Press

The Florida State football team is No. 2 and in position to earn one of four spots in the College Football Playoff. All the Seminoles need to do is keep winning to assure the 2013 national champs that they will have a chance to repeat.

Coach Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles were on a plane Tuesday night when the playoff committee announced its rankings and found out that FSU was No. 2 when the team landed in Louisville, Kentucky.

Where Florida State stands
RecordPlayoff CommitteeAP pollCoaches' pollStrength of Schedule
7-022244
ESPN.com

FSU has won 23 straight games and looks to make it 24 when the Seminoles face Louisville (6-2, 4-2 ACC) on Thursday night. The Seminoles haven't put together dominating wins in 2014. They've held off late rallies and used a few comebacks of their own. 

"It hasn't been pretty," ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit said on the College Football Playoff television show Tuesday night. "But they've won. It isn't always about style points, it's about winning and moving on to the next week."

Style points matter little at this point. FSU needs to just win its five remaining regular-season games and the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 6 to ensure its spot in the playoff.

Let's take a look at FSU's obstacles in the road ahead:

Biggest Obstacles to a Playoff Berth

FSU's toughest remaining game could be Thursday's showdown with Louisville. The Cardinals have the nation's No. 1 defense and No. 1 rush defense. FSU has struggled to run the ball, ranking 101st nationally, so the Seminoles will need to put the game on quarterback Jameis Winston's shoulders.

After the Louisville game, FSU will play four games against unranked teams as the Seminoles face Virginia (4-4), travel to Miami (5-3), host Boston College (5-3) and finish the regular season at home against Florida (3-3). 

FSU's remaining games
Oct. 30at Louisville
Nov. 8Virginia
Nov. 15at Miami
Nov. 22Boston College
Nov. 29Florida
seminoles.com

While the Miami game is FSU's last road contest, the Seminoles have played well against the Hurricanes in recent years. Fisher is 4-0 vs. Miami as FSU's head coach, and the Seminoles haven't lost at Miami since 2004. The Hurricanes have had an up-and-down season, but tailback Duke Johnson has been tough to stop, rushing for 1,036 yards and seven touchdowns.

Florida has been shaky on offense and is replacing junior Jeff Driskel with true freshman Treon Harris on Saturday when the Gators play Georgia in Jacksonville, Florida. Harris could provide a spark to the team, but it remains to be seen how effective he will be when playing on the road against FSU.

Help Needed

FSU has the luxury of being one of two unbeaten teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision (Marshall is technically the third but considered a long shot and is not ranked by the playoff committee). While the Seminoles don't need help, they will certainly get it from the head-to-head games in the SEC and other conferences.

The sheer volume of potential one-loss teams that have a chance to reach the playoff is staggering. Of the 25 teams ranked by the committee on Tuesday, 17 have one loss. But there is also a full month of football remaining, not to mention pivotal conference championship games.

And by default there are head-to-head SEC games that will help clarify the playoff teams. In the SEC, Alabama and Auburn will play on Nov. 29, which could be an elimination game (one team will go to sleep that night with two losses). Mississippi State will also play at Ole Miss that same day.

Prediction

The road ahead includes five games—and Louisville at No. 25 by the playoff committee is the only ranked team. FSU must win on Thursday at Louisville, but then all of the games are at least in the Sunshine State.

All of FSU's opponents after Louisville may be unranked, but they all appear headed to a bowl game with the exception of the Gators, who are 3-3 and will be fighting for bowl-eligibility. While all the remaining teams are unranked, the road isn't necessarily easy. Rivalry games simply can't be viewed that way.

Louisville is statistically the toughest defense left on the schedule for FSU. If the Seminoles get past the Cardinals, expect them to handle the rest of the schedule and finish the regular season 12-0. The ACC's Atlantic Division champion could be any one of a large group of teams, but FSU's talent and depth are two reasons to think the Seminoles will win. 

A rematch against Miami or Virginia in the ACC Championship Game is certainly less than desirable, but FSU should be able to win on a neutral field.

Bob Ferrante is the Florida State Lead Writer for Bleacher Report, all quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bob on Twitter. All stats courtesy of seminoles.com.

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