College Football Playoff rankings show FSU football’s Orange Bowl path

The College Football Playoff’s latest rankings reveal a narrow but feasible path for Florida State to make it to the Orange Bowl.

By coming in 16th in the rankings released Tuesday by the selection committee, FSU moved one notch ahead of North Carolina to become the second-best ACC team, creating a potential way for the Seminoles to earn their first trip to a prestigious New Year’s Six bowl game since 2016.

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To get there, FSU needs a few things to happen, starting with a home win over the Gators on Friday. Next, the Seminoles need Clemson to make it to the College Football Playoff so FSU becomes the next available ACC team for the Orange Bowl.

For that to happen, Clemson — up one spot to eighth — must beat South Carolina on Saturday and North Carolina the next week for the ACC title. Then the Tigers and FSU need some help.

At least one other conference frontrunner must drop a game or two, either this week or next. The easiest solution is for No. 6 USC to lose to No. 15 Notre Dame (which thumped Clemson earlier this month). That could drop the Pac-12 out of the final four and free up one playoff spot. The other option is for No. 4 TCU to slip up against Iowa State this weekend and/or in the Big 12 championship game (probably against No. 12 Kansas State).

No. 2 Ohio State then needs to beat No. 3 Michigan — preferably soundly. The Wolverines’ non-conference schedule was weak, and an ACC champion Clemson team will have a legitimate case to get in over Michigan. That might not be true against a one-loss Ohio State team, which beat Notre Dame in Week 1.

Finally, Clemson needs No. 1 Georgia to beat No. 5 LSU in next week’s SEC championship. An LSU victory would probably give the SEC two playoff bids, taking one potential berth away from Clemson.

The path isn’t easy, but it’s not as daunting as it sounds. And if it works out, the Tigers will have a serious shot at the playoff — and FSU could be headed to a top-tier bowl game.

CFP rankings

1. Georgia (11-0)

2. Ohio State (11-0)

3. Michigan (11-0)

4. TCU (11-0)

5. LSU (9-2)

6. USC (10-1)

7. Alabama (9-2)

8. Clemson (10-1)

9. Oregon (9-2)

10. Tennessee (9-2)

11. Penn State (9-2)

12. Kansas State (8-3)

13. Washington (9-2)

14. Utah (8-3)

15. Notre Dame (8-3)

16. Florida State (8-3)

17. North Carolina (9-2)

18. UCLA (8-3)

19. Tulane (9-2)

20. Ole Miss (8-3)

21. Oregon State (8-3)

22. UCF (8-3)

23. Texas (7-4)

24. Cincinnati (9-2)

25. Louisville (7-4)

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