College Football Playoff team No. 24: Florida State Seminoles, 2015
Lost to Oregon in Semifinal (Rose Bowl), 59-20
Simply looking at the fact that the Florida State Seminoles lost by 39 points in the Rose Bowl, their single appearance in the College Football Playoff to this point, you might wonder why they aren’t even closer to the bottom of these rankings. But the truth of the matter is that Jameis Winston and the Noles were actually much more competitive with Oregon than you might think.
Winston had plenty of success through the air with just shy of 350 yards passing while Dalvin Cook and Karlos Williams both ran well. And in the first half, Florida State was neck-and-neck with the Ducks. The second half, however, was a different story as the Seminoles defense had precisely zero answers while the offense stalled out. The team wasn’t as lackluster as the final score might indicate but, then again, a bad loss is a bad loss.
College Football Playoff team No. 23: Ohio State Buckeyes, 2021
Play Clemson in Semifinal (Sugar Bowl)
Because of the complications that playing college football during a pandemic has wrought, it’s honestly difficult to know what to make of the Ohio State Buckeyes. We know that quarterback Justin Fields is likely on his way to being a top-five pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and he has weapons galore behind an elite offensive line. Yet, the offense has been far from bulletproof, as evidenced by the Big Ten Championship Game when they were pressed by Northwestern.
What causes me to put the Buckeyes this low, however, is the defense. The front seven remains a quality unit on that side of the ball but the Ohio State secondary has been nothing close to the level of previous years. When you’re matching that type of glaring weakness against arguably the 27 best teams of the past seven seasons, it’s going to knock them down in the rankings quite a bit — especially with a seemingly erratic offense on the other side.