Florida State capped an undefeated season by beating Auburn in the BCS Championship Game, 34-31, on Monday night, and now we have a long offseason to ponder this Seminole group's place among college football's all-time great teams.
There are fair criticisms to be made about FSU's schedule (and we'll get to them), which might disqualify FSU for some, but there is also something to be said for the dominant way in which the Seminoles dispensed with all of that schedule -- until the final game, at least.
The Seminoles' average margin of victory during the regular season was about 42 points, and after their effort against the Tigers, they hold the FBS season scoring record, surpassing the the 2008 Oklahoma team, which scored 716 points. Only once during the regular season was FSU held under 40 points (37 vs. Florida), and it's also worth noting here that on several occasions, had the Noles wanted to keep mauling teams with their first-stringers, they'd have scored many more points.
It's fairly safe to say that in the F/+ era, this FSU team is tops -- that makes the Seminoles the best team of about the last decade or so. They'll likely finish this season ranked first both offensive and defensive F/+, and since 2007, the only team to finish among the top two in both was 2012 Alabama.
To put their dominance another way: the Seminoles trailed for a grand total of 37:49 during the regular season, little more than a half of football. Even though they were behind for most of the title game, we can't discount the first 13 games. They were never behind from the second quarter of their September win over Boston College until January, a run of more than 570 minutes to close out the year.
The big knock amid all of these big numbers is, of course, the schedule. The Noles' regular season slate ranked 90th in the country according to FEI, but there's really no need for advanced metrics to see that there weren't a lot of significant hurdles for FSU to clear. Clemson aside, the ACC's Atlantic Division was a big pile of mediocrity (or worse), and while the Coastal may have been deeper, it lacked elite teams. (See: Duke winning the dang thing.)
The non-conference portion of the schedule was dreadful -- FBS foes Nevada and Idaho won five games between them, and then there was FCS patsy Bethune-Cookman. The one team FSU had counted on for a decent schedule boost was Florida, which ended up tanking from 11 wins in 2012 to four in 2013.
We can safely say it's a weaker schedule than the ones faced by the likes of 2011 Alabama, 2001 Miami, 1995 Nebraska, 1972 Oklahoma, 1971 Nebraska, and 1961 Alabama, some of the other teams we think of as contenders for the title of best ever. No doubt there are other national champs you could toss into the mix there as well.
So how do you weigh that against what we've saw on the field this year? Florida State is insanely talented, the numbers -- and our eyes -- tell us that much. The Seminoles are recruiting at an elite level, and with the addition of Jameis Winston, they've surpassed the SEC's best, which is something that would have seemed unfathomable not that long ago.
It's a great, great team on the verge of another dominant run, one that could prove even more impressive than its heydays in the '90s.
Taking all of these things into account, where do you place the 2013 Seminoles among the best teams in college football history? Top 10? Top 20? And how much do you dock them for their schedule?