We wanted chaos at the top of the NCAA football rankings.
We just didn’t want it this way.
Nor did the No. 4 Florida State Seminoles (11-0), who are ruing the day — despite a 17th consecutive victory — after losing Heisman Trophy hopeful and quarterback Jordan Travis to a gruesome leg injury Saturday.
“Obviously it didn’t look good,” Florida State head coach Mike Norvell told reporters moments after taming the FCS-side North Alabama Lions (3-8) in 58-13 fashion in Tallahassee, Fla. “Our thoughts are with Jordan right now.”
While the injury doesn’t come with a loss — the Seminoles rallied from the ugly incident and a two-touchdown hole to score the decisive victory — it does put their final-four hopes in jeopardy.
They’ll have to find some kind of leader in the regular-season finale next week against the rival Florida Gators and in the ACC Championship Game a week later against the surprising No. 10 Louisville Cardinals.
Junior QB Tate Rodemaker, who has been Travis’ backup for the past two seasons, was respectable in relief late Saturday, tossing for 217 yards and two touchdowns on 13-of-23 passing. And the running game was spectacular, with nine different Seminoles toting the ball for 248 yards.
“I thought Tate did a great job coming in,” Norvell told reporters. “He was ready for his moment when his number was called.”
But even if they continue to win, chances are the College Football Playoff committee won’t be moving Florida State ahead of others in the mix without the talented QB at the helm.
Undefeated or not, committee members could even drop them out right of the final four.
The committee will most assuredly take into account the QB loss as an insurmountable obstacle in the fight for the national championship, opting instead to put a one-loss team into the playoff ahead of a perfect Florida State.
And they certainly will if the Seminoles do suffer a loss in their final two contests.
“They’re gonna respond,” Norvell told reporters. “I believe in this team … I’ve got a lot of confidence in this team, because I live with them.”
For Travis, it was awful.
The dynamic QB scrambled to earn a first down before getting tackled awkwardly. When the dust settled, he was left his foot dangling below his ankle in one of those rare sights that leaves you feeling queasy.
After being attended to by trainers and medical personnel, the senior was carted off the field in an air cast and taken to hospital by ambulance.
This season, Travis has thrown for 2,734 passing yards with 20 touchdowns against two interceptions, adding seven rushing majors in becoming a Heisman favourite and leading the Seminoles to their best season in a decade.
“It hurt — it’s painful to see,” added Norvell getting emotional. “You just want so bad for that kid, because he does everything right. Such a special young man.”
SECOND & LONG
Jim Harbaugh watched No. 3 Michigan (11-0) win its 1,000th game without him, as the head coach served out the second game of his three-game suspension for the school’s sign-stealing scandal while his team survived a scare in a 31-24 decision over host Maryland (6-5). Michigan needed two safeties and a strip-sack for a scoop-six from its vaunted defence to eke out this one … ‘The Game’ is up next for Harbaugh-less Michigan against No. 2 Ohio State (11-0), which pumped Big Ten-rival Minnesota (5-6) 37-3 Saturday afternoon … No. 5 Washington (11-0) booked its spot in the Pac-12 title fight and kept its head up in the hunt for the CFP after escaping crazy Corvallis with a slim 22-20 win over No. 11 Oregon State (8-3). It was an 18th-straight ‘W’ for UDub — and a scrappy one that saw Oregon State hold Heisman hopeful Michael Penix Jr and the Washington offence off the scoreboard in the second half. But the defence stepped up to hold back the home side. “We have a lot of guys that have put a lot into this program — major investments — and they’re not going to go down lightly,” Washington head coach Kalen DeBoer told ESPN post-game. “They’re going to keep fighting. They’re going to keep playing. They believe in each other. They’re going to do it for each other.” … Elsewhere in the hunt for the final four: No. 1 Georgia (11-0) tagged No. 18 Tennessee (7-4) 38-10 in Knoxville; QB Bo Nix, the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, chucked six TDs in the first half alone to lead No. 6 Oregon (10-1) to a 49-13 shellacking of host Arizona State (3-7); and No. 8 Alabama (10-1) carved up visiting FCS-crew Chattanooga (7-4) 66-10.
THIRD & GOAL
No. 10 Louisville (10-1) earned its first appearance in the ACC championship game with its 38-31 victory over host Miami (6-5). Louisville faces No. 4 Florida State in the conference finale … For the third time in school history, No. 16 Iowa (8-2) has won the Big Ten West. Kirk Ference’s crew punched its ticket to the conference championship contest the way it knows best, by mucking it up with rival Illinois (5-5) in an ugly 15-13 slobberknocker in Ames. Turns out a score-opening safety — what else? — helped win it for offensive-dud Iowa … How about No. 17 Arizona (8-3) scrapping for a shot to claim the final Pac-12 crown? An impressive 42-18 slaughter of No. 22 Utah (7-4) gives Jedd Fisch’s improving crew a fifth-straight win — the longest such streak for the school since 2014 — all against solid conference competition. At 6-2 in conference play, Arizona can still steal a spot in the Pac-12 title tilt … In the race for the Big 12 finale, No. 7 Texas (10-1) leads the way with its first 10-win regular season since 2009 after a 26-16 win over host Iowa State (6-5). That gives Steve Sarkisian’s squad a 7-1 record in conference play, while three teams sport 6-2 in-conference marks. That after No. 14 Oklahoma (9-2) survived an injury to QB Dylan Gabriel (head) and host BYU (5-6) in a 31-24 battle, No. 21 Kansas State (8-3) topped No. 25 Kansas (7-4) 31-27 and No. 23 Oklahoma State (8-3) dumped host Houston (4-7) 43-30.
FOURTH & INCHES
In the wake of losing its appeal to play post-season football in just its second year in the FBS ranks, James Madison (10-1) fell from the ranks of the undefeated by losing 26-23 to visiting Appalachian State (7-4) in overtime … That decision opens the door for still-perfect Liberty (11-0), which drop-kicked visiting Massachusetts (3-8) 49-25, to secure the New Year’s Day bowl berth awarded to the best Group of Five side … Northwestern (6-5) becomes bowl-eligible after a 1-11 season last year — that thanks to a 23-15 edge of visiting Purdue (3-8) … The upset of the day was quite the upset, as New Mexico State (9-3) throttled host Auburn (6-5) 31-10 — despite being 25.5-point underdogs — for that program’s first-ever win over an SEC school … Other games involving ranked teams saw: No. 9 Missouri (9-2) squeeze past host Florida (5-6) 33-31; No. 12 Penn State (9-2) shut down visiting Rutgers (6-5) 27-6; No. 13 Ole Miss (9-2) obliterate visiting UL Monroe (2-9) 35-3; No. 15 LSU (8-3) down visiting Georgia State (6-5) 56-14; No. 19 Notre Dame (8-3) destroy visiting Wake Forest (4-7) 45-7; host Clemson negate No. 20 North Carolina (8-3) 31-20; ; and No. 24 Tulane (10-1) keep its hopes alive for the Group of Five’s New Year’s Day bowl bid with a 28-4 road win over Florida Atlantic (4-7).