LSU vs. Florida State: Who can afford a loss more in Orlando, Tigers or Seminoles?

In the biggest game of the weekend, No. 5 LSU will take on No. 8 Florida State in Orlando. Between the Tigers and the Seminoles, who can afford a Week 1 "neutral-site" loss more?
Jayden Daniels, LSU, Tigers, Fabien Lovett, Florida State Seminoles
Jayden Daniels, LSU, Tigers, Fabien Lovett, Florida State Seminoles / Chris Graythen/GettyImages

The loser of No. 5 LSU vs. No. 8 Florida State will not be out of it, but one team would have an easier pathway into the College Football Playoff with one loss than the other.

After a thrilling Saturday in Week 1, we have a few college football games left on tap during Labor Day Weekend, none more important than No. 5 LSU taking on No. 8 Florida State down in Orlando.

This game is the second of a "home-and-home" between the Tigers and the Seminoles. Florida State won the game a season ago in New Orleans, stunning Brian Kelly's Bayou Bengals in his LSU debut. While Mike Norvell's 'Noles proved victorious in NOLA, it was Kelly's Tigers who played for a conference championship a year ago. These are two College Football Playoff contenders right now.

So between Florida State and LSU, what team can afford a Week 1 "neutral-site" loss more easily, the Seminoles or the Tigers? Let's discuss what all could potentially be in the way of this game's loser.

LSU vs. Florida State: What contender could afford a Week 1 loss more?

For LSU, this is the Tigers' big game in the non-conference. The Bayou Bengals draw HBCU Grambling, Georgia State and Army to round out their non-SEC slate. With it being the final year of divisions in the SEC, the Tigers face all six of the SEC West rivals, cross-divisional foe Florida and a road date at the Missouri Tigers in CoMo to round out their conference slate, which is a rough one.

For Florida State, the Seminoles still have to play in-state rival Florida in the non-conference, as well as Southern Miss and North Alabama to round out those four games. With the ACC going to a 3-5 format this season without divisions, it is a little bit of a different slate for the 'Noles. They do play at Clemson at the end of the month, but will avoid the likes of North Carolina and Louisville in ACC play.

When it comes to LSU, a Week 1 loss gives them plenty of time to prepare for their next realistically losable game, which would be at rival Ole Miss at the end of September. They still have to play at Alabama in November before ending the regular season vs. emerging rival Texas A&M at home. Assuming they win the next 11 games, an 11-1 LSU team would face Georgia or Tennessee in Atlanta.

As for Florida State, the 'Noles are really going to need to beat Clemson in Death Valley, as those Tigers might be the only certainly ranked team they would face in what looks to be another down year for the SEC. A win over LSU gives the Seminoles an opportunity to fall at Clemson with a chance to avenge that defeat in the conference title bout in Charlotte in early December. They have to win there.

To be frank, I really feel a tough loss in Orlando could be devastating for either team's College Football Playoff chances. For LSU, a loss to Florida State diminishes the top-half of the SEC a bit, as well as making it highly unlikely the Bayou Bengals go 8-0 in SEC play, get to Atlanta and then beat the SEC East champion. They will face several ranked opponents, but that remaining schedule is brutal!

And for Florida State, a loss to LSU in Orlando means the Seminoles would have to beat Clemson twice. That may be doable, especially if Cade Klubnik plays more like D.J. Uiagalelei in his first year as the starter than Trevor Lawrence or Deshaun Watson. However, who else on Florida State's schedule is going to end up being ranked? That takes things very much out of their control, which is not good...

Overall, I think it has to be Florida State who can afford a loss more, only because of the lack of top-tier teams in the ACC. The Seminoles would not have to play fellow conference title contender North Carolina until early December in Charlotte. As long as Clemson wins about nine or 10 games and Florida State can go 8-0 in ACC play, they would have a pretty decent chance of making the playoff.

Ultimately, LSU is likely to draw four more ranked teams between Sunday night in Orlando and in early December in Atlanta. Florida State could be an elite team, one on the shortlist who can win a national title. However, LSU still needs to play Alabama, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and then either presumably Georgia or Tennessee to be in a position to make its second-ever trip to College Football Playoff.

The pressure is more on Kelly's Bayou Bengals than the amount that Norvell's Seminoles are feeling.

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