Clemson Ranked Third in ESPN Preseason Rankings

Let the talk of disrespect begin…..

ESPN released its Preseason FPI rankings on Tuesday and Clemson comes in ranked at No. 3. On the surface that might seem reasonable until you see who is ranked No. 2.

  1. Alabama
  2. Oklahoma
  3. Clemson
  4. Iowa State
  5. Ohio State
  6. Texas A&M
  7. Georgia
  8. Mississippi State
  9. Oklahoma State
  10. Penn State

That’s right. Oklahoma is at No. 2. The team that lost two games last season and gets its doors blown off every time they make the playoff is ranked ahead of Clemson.

So what is the FPI exactly?

FPI is a predictive rating system designed to measure team strength and project performance going forward. The ultimate goal of FPI is not to rank teams 1 through 128; rather, it is to correctly predict games and season outcomes. If Vegas ever published the power rankings it uses to set its lines, they would likely look quite a lot like FPI.

Correctly predicting game outcomes can’t be done by evaluating teams’ records because some teams are stronger than their records indicate (lots of close losses), and others have favorable schedules. Both of these situations are reflected in the game- and season-level projections.

It is important to note what FPI is not — FPI is not a playoff predictor, and it is not designed to identify the four teams most deserving of making the College Football Playoff. ESPN has other metrics, including Strength of Record, that can be used to identify the most deserving teams.

Courtesy of ESPN

Still not sure exactly what the FPI is? Don’t worry, it’s pretty much guaranteed you are not alone. Iowa State at No. 4? Oklahoma State, Mississippi State and Penn State all starting out in the Top-10? Yes, it’s very confusing.

Honestly, it’s not all that surprising. After all, we are talking about the same rankings that had Oklahoma ranked ahead of Clemson the week after the Tigers dominated the Sooners 37-17 in the Orange Bowl in the semifinal round of the 2015 College Football Playoff.

The FPI does give Clemson the third-best odds at making the playoff at 65%. And this is the first time since 2017 that Clemson won’t start the season ranked No. 1 in the FPI.

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