One of the intriguing things about this year's new setup is how Florida State has fared in the weekly balloting. Despite being the only undefeated team in the FBS, despite being owners of a 29-game winning streak, the Seminoles are currently ranked third in the nation.
The fact the Noles have struggled on a weekly basis to beat their opponents, as opposed to massacring them, has been held against them. In this day and age of social media and sports coverage saturating our culture, style points mean more now than ever before.
This made me think of the 1984 Huskies, who finished the season as Orange Bowl Champions with an 11-1 record. As most UW fans know, that was the year the Huskies finished #2 in the polls behind a BYU team that didn't play one ranked opponent all season long. Anybody with common sense realizes that Washington got the shaft that year.
But had there been a college football playoff back then, with all the media coverage existing today, that Huskies team wouldn't have made the final four.
The Huskies were ranked #1 in the nation toward the end of the season, despite some dreadful performances from a stylistic perspective. In their 17-10 win over Oregon, Washington mustered only 109 yards of offense and 3 first downs. But a punt return for a TD and a blocked punt for a TD provided the offense. In a 28-12 win over Arizona, the Huskies surrendered 7 turnovers. In a 19-7 win over UNRANKED Oregon State, Washington's lone TD came when safety Jimmy Rogers (shown on the above program cover) blocked a punt with his throat and the Huskies recovered deep in Beaver territory.
That year's Husky defense was one of the all-time greats, but the offense sputtered through much of the season. Back in the 1980s, it was more of a question of whether you won the game or not that solidified your place in the polls. It's not like this year, where FSU can win ugly and drop to #3 despite being the only undefeated team in the FBS.
In looking at the Associated Press Top 10 for the 1984 season, it's arguable that none of the top three teams would have made it into the playoff.
- Boston College
- Oklahoma State
- University of Southern California
BYU was undefeated but playing in the weak WAC, Washington would have been penalized in the same manner as Florida State, and that '84 Florida team was on probation for paying players. That would have likely left us with a Final 4 of Nebraska, Boston College, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Three teams from the Big 8 (known these days as the Big XII) would have been featured in the college football playoff.
Of note, Oklahoma State -- Washington's opponent in the upcoming Cactus Bowl -- went 10-2 in 1984, with the great Leslie O'Neal at defensive tackle.