Florida State is both lucky and good

Lucky and good are not mutually exclusive, even if the plight of finding the four best teams ignores that fact as each win is weighted, measured and filed.

The College Football Playoff and the résumé scrutiny it requires make it easy to forget a team needs to be both lucky and good to compete for a national title. Auburn was fortunate Alabama missed the Kick Six field goal, but only because the Tigers had a wonderfully designed return prepped. Alabama could be No. 1 on Tuesday because it was lucky LSU kicked the ball out of bounds and good enough to drive 55 yards in less than a minute to score.

The luck badge is only found on the lapels of winners.

No. 3 Florida State is lucky, a fact that maybe gets highlighted because the Seminoles are public enemy No. 1. They embrace the role of villain and like that they're unlikable.

They're also good, and if Florida State is a team of a destiny it's because it's a self-fulfilling destiny. How good the Seminoles are is subjective, but they're good enough to take advantage of the luck handed to them, a trait that underscores the Seminoles' greatest strength. No team is better than Florida State from the shoulders up. It's the theme to all of its wins, and it was on full display Saturday night.

"We spend so much money in our support system to develop and get these guys how to think and how to play with [mental conditioning coach] Trevor [Moawad]," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. "The sports psychology and player development, I say is the most critical thing in college sports today."

There is never panic on the Florida State sideline, which Fisher said is the result of months of offseason mental conditioning. It's why Fisher said he would put this team against any in the country over the course of 60 minutes and why Florida State continues to be college football's toughest out. It takes a full 60-minute effort to down the Seminoles, even if they donate first halves like they're the Salvation Army.

It's why the Seminoles are riding a 26-game winning streak. They know an opportunity is going to come, and they will expose the other team for the slightest misstep.

"Nothing in sports happens by accident," Moawad said.

It's why labeling the Seminoles as lucky and nothing more is ill-fitting. The tipped third-down pass that fell into the waiting arms of Karlos Williams was lucky, nothing more than Florida State winning a scratch off. But that doesn't mean the Seminoles can't be one fine poker player, too. It's easy to let that lucky play overshadow a defense that held Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya, who had a rating of 342 in the first quarter, to three points over the final 40 minutes. It's easy to remember that pick instead of Florida State's PAT block early in the game as Miami poured it. The block changed the complexion of Miami's final drive.

"Not for one second did we think because they jumped out that we were going to lose," defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. said. "If we calm down and play the way we're supposed to play we knew that we would come back and win the game."

This isn't a team rubbing a rabbit's foot to conjure up some luck to get back in the game. It's a team that prepares to seize opportunities in a game in which the prevailing thought is teams lose games more often than they win them.

There is no quantifying Florida State's relaxed approach, though, and it shouldn't be a factor in the committee's rankings. There are no points for mental toughness, for being battle tested and better for it.

Whether Florida State is the best team is up for debate, yet no team has separated from the pack in college football and staked claim to the title of No. 1. That makes the playoff a crapshoot no matter how the field shapes up, which means you can count on a little luck come January with so many flawed teams involved.

You can count on Florida State being prepared to take advantage of it, too.