We are one day out from the initial College Football Playoff rankings, with Clemson currently sitting at No. 5 in both the AP and Coaches Polls.
With Ohio State, Michigan, Tennessee and Georgia all unbeaten, it’s very likely the Tigers will be on the outside looking in on Tuesday night. All is not lost, though.
Ohio State and Michigan face off the final week of the regular season and Georgia and Tennessee will go at it this weekend. There is going to be movement between now and the end of the season and probably a lot of it.
The way the season looks to be playing out, Clemson is going to need to win out. The Tigers got no help from Syracuse or Wake Forest over the weekend, both of which lost to unranked teams in blowout fashion. Right now, only UGA has a worse SOS than Clemson when it comes to the unbeatens, although the Tigers do have the fourth-best SOR. They also have three Top 25 wins, with only TCU and Tennessee having more.
However, if the Tigers take care of their own business, and win the final four regular season games, they’re getting in. An unbeaten ACC champ Clemson team will not be left out so SOS really would only come into play if the Tigers end up taking a loss.
First up, is a trip to Notre Dame, where Clemson is a 3.5 point favorite. It’s by far the toughest matchup left on the schedule. While the Irish may be down, and their offense fairly one-dimensional, Notre Dame still fields a formidable defense, so it won’t be easy. Keep in mind, though, both Marshall and Stanford have won in South Bend this season.
After that, the Tigers will play the final three games at home, against Louisville, Miami and then the rivalry matchup with South Carolina. All games Clemson should be substantial favorites in, and the Tigers have not lost in Death Valley since 2016.
With the calendar about to turn to November, this is the part of the season that Dabo Swinney refers to as “Championship Phase” of the season. The Tigers just need to play up to that standard and everything else will sort itself out.
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