Following an upset-laden weekend in college football, the third installment of the College Football Playoff rankings, which will be released Tuesday night, figure to differ drastically from last week’s rankings.
Among the carnage Saturday was a 23-points loss by the previous No. 1 team, Georgia, at the hands of Auburn. That begs the question, who will take over the top spot?
While Alabama, ranked No. 2 in the first two CFP rankings and still undefeated, figures to be the most likely choice, ESPN’s Heather Dinich laid out the case for five teams to claim the coveted No. 1 ranking. Among those teams is Clemson.
While Clemson has a loss on the season, they have been No. 4 in each of the past two rankings, ahead of undefeated Miami and Wisconsin. That is because, as Dinich writes, the CFP selection committee gave Clemson a “hall pass” for its loss to Syracuse because quarterback Kelly Bryant missed the second half of the game with a concussion.
In addition, Clemson’s difficult schedule separates it from fellow one-loss team Oklahoma and undefeated but untested Wisconsin. The Tigers have wins against four opponents who were ranked at the time — Auburn, Louisville, Virginia Tech and N.C. State. All but Louisville were included in last week’s top 25.
“If Virginia Tech remains ranked in spite of its loss to Georgia Tech, Clemson will continue to have three wins against Top 25 teams, including an important non-conference win against surging Auburn,” Dinich writes. “That win looked even better considering Auburn’s win over No. 1 Georgia.”
In addition, every Power 5 team Clemson has faced this season, with the exception of talented but underachieving Florida State, has a winning record.
Will Clemson move all the way to No. 1 when the rankings are revealed Tuesday night? Probably not. But if the Tigers keep winning and top-4 teams keep losing, they just might find themselves at the top of the rankings when the College Football Playoff begins.