What if FSU played in the SEC?

We project how the Noles would fare against other Power 5 schedules

Originally Published: September 3, 2014
By Brian Fremeau | ESPN Insider

Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsWhile it's not easy, the Seminoles have a clear path to the inaugural College Football Playoff.

Last year, the Florida State Seminoles posted an average margin of victory of 39.5 points per game on their way to the national title. Nobody was predicting invincibility for the Seminoles this fall, but expectations were high that another dominant run through the regular season was probable.

Oklahoma State had other ideas in Week 1. Florida State clung to a single-score lead late in the fourth quarter before quarterback Jameis Winston connected with wide receiver Rashad Greene for a 50-yard touchdown with a little less than four minutes left to put the game out of reach. The 37-31 victory raised some eyebrows over just how much more vulnerable the Seminoles might be in 2014.

We weren't stunned by the result (we predicted a nine-point victory for the Noles), and we aren't pressing any panic buttons for Florida State. According to our projections, the Seminoles won't face an opponent as strong as Oklahoma State until they reach the College Football Playoff. We give Florida State at least a 70 percent chance to win each of its remaining games, including the ACC championship game, and the Seminoles have a win likelihood of at least 85 percent in seven of those matchups. Every other Power 5 conference contender will face more pitfalls in their playoff hunt.

The College Football Playoff selection committee will have an intriguing set of questions to discuss and debate as the season progresses, and Florida State's strength of schedule may be at the heart of those. The Seminoles currently project to have the 60th-ranked schedule according to the latest FEI ratings -- easier than all but one of the teams projected to be a division or conference winner in the other Power 5 leagues.

Brian Fremeau

ESPN Insider
• Has been a contributor to ESPN Insider and ESPN The Magazine since 2009
• Creator of the Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI), a measure of college football team efficiency
• Contributor to Football Outsiders and his own site, bcftoys.com