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Pay attention to the College Football Playoff rankings Tuesday, and not just at the top. The middle tier will provide another future case study for CFP philosophy 101.

If the selection committee jumps 9-3 Florida State ahead of 9-3 Louisville, it’s time to re-evaluate how much the committee prioritizes the on-field results. In September, the Cardinals blew the Seminoles out 63-20. It was a one-score game for all of 14 minutes.

The debate should probably end right there, but Florida State could move ahead in Tuesday’s rankings, which likely determines who plays in the Orange Bowl. If Clemson beats Virginia Tech as a double-digit favorite, the next highest-ranked ACC team heads to South Florida. Last week, Louisville was ranked No. 11 and Florida State was penciled in at No. 14, but the Cardinals lost.

Interpreting the College Football Playoff rankings has been challenging. Body of work, eye test, strength of schedule, head to head — it’s difficult discerning what holds the most value with the selection committee. The reality is the committee has been given carte blanche to establish each week’s rankings as it sees fit.

It would take some impressive maneuvering, however, to slide Louisville behind Florida State when comparing each team’s complete résumé and the head-to-head result. The Seminoles’ best argument is that three weeks is a better sample size than three months. The case for their admission into the New Year’s Six is the eye test, which they passed in November when the Cardinals, losers of two straight, did not.

The undefined metric the Seminoles fan base once held such contempt for just two years ago is now it’s rock-solid case to load the trailers and take the Florida turnpike south to the Orange Bowl. Florida State is hot, and Louisville is not.

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