football-fbs flag | November 18, 2014

Head to Head: Winning big or winning tough

  FSU had a fortuitous deflection lead to the score that made the difference in a close win vs. unranked Miami.

Head to Head debates the biggest topics in college football. With an Alabama team with a 59-0 victory against a ranked opponent being ranked lower than the Florida State squad that continues to escape the jaws of defeat against unranked teams in both the AP and Coaches Poll, our panel debates whether or not the playoff committee will value dominant performances more than hard fought late victories.

It’s very obvious by now. There’s no perfect way of picking and ranking the best teams in college football.

All wins aren’t created equal, especially in the eyes of the College Football Playoff selection committee. That is why, its better to win tough rather than win big.

As many await Tuesday night’s verdict on the four top teams, we know the obvious: No. 1 Mississippi State fell, No. 4 TCU and No. 5 Alabama are bound to reshuffle the top five spots, and No. 3 Florida State is still in the mix.

But now that people -- not number-crunching computers -- are deciding positions, the details of every game -- rather than the final score -- are more important and winning by large margins doesn’t necessarily mean that one team is better than the other.

Lets compare Alabama and TCU.

Alabama has tiptoed through its Southeastern Conference schedule with four of six wins decided by one touchdown.

So far this year, lopsided wins haven’t been the norm for the Crimson Tide, who play in a conference where shootouts aren’t prevalent and defense dominates.

On Saturday, despite holding Mississippi State to three first-half points, the Crimson Tide came close losing the 25-20 game.

The Horned Frogs on the other hand have more or less dominated the Big 12, blowing out three conference opponents by at least 21 points. Texas Tech faced the worst drubbing, losing 82-27. But TCU did rally late Saturday to edge Kansas 34-30.

Based on the teams’ body of work, I believe Alabama’s wins are more significant because of the quality of its wins rather than its quantity of points. Simply put, Alabama has been tested more than TCU.

Come playoff time, fans want to see great matchups, not lopsided victories. And the best four teams should be selected on tough wins down the stretch rather than dominant performances.

--Tesalon Felicien,

Win big, baby!

Go hard out of the gate, foot on the gas,  score early, often and late and kick the other team’s butt.


It’s what separates Florida State from … 2013 Florida State.

It’s what shuts up spreadsheet jockeys, algorithm calculators, sabermetricians and schedule analyzers that don’t feel the need to watch people play football in order to determine who’s best at playing football.

If a team is dominant and wins in dominant fashion on a regular basis there is no argument against them being the best team in the country.

It's the only reason that people remember that Stanford was the No. 2 team in 1901 is because it’s noteworthy that when they were routed 49-0 by Michigan in the Rose Bowl, they became the final victim in an 11-0 Michigan season in which the Wolverines outscored their opponents 550-0.

This is obviously a tremendous stretch but nobody could argue they weren’t the best team that season (or potentially ever) and they didn’t do it by winning tough.

The 2013 Noles were a runaway winner; their slimmest margin of victory came in a 48-14 win against Boston College. This year, Florida State, though undefeated, already has six games in which it's only won by 14 points or fewer.

The Noles' inability to assert dominance of unranked teams is the reason they’re playing jump rope with the two-seed and people are talking about the inevitable collapse more often than the potential of a repeat champion and measurements and dimensions of a Jameis Winston statue policing Doak Campbell Stadium for eternity.

Dominant is what Florida State needed to be in order to garner the respect the Noles and their fans feel they deserve, a level of respect as high as Oregon, Alabama and Mississippi State -- one-loss teams that are still receiving first-place votes. The fact is that if FSU doesn’t run the table (or hadn’t already gone undefeated) this season people would not view it as a team worthy of the inaugural College Football Playoff.

Teams can’t control how good there opponents are, these games are scheduled years in advance – you’d think they’d stop doing that, given all the importance placed on strength of schedule – which is why team’s have to make sure they win big against the weaker opponent.

I’m not saying ranked teams need to pull a Georgia Tech-Cumberland every time they play an unranked team, but 222-0 sure would separate one team from the herd.

-- Gerard Gilberto,

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