First Rating playoffs and a message for Clemson

Clemson football | NCAA

The current national champion began the season in first place in the ranking. Until now, the team has not lost a single match, has not lost any of its leading players. But Clemson is on the fifth line in the first published playoff ranking.

The position of the committee, voiced back in August, was confirmed: Clemson will be assessed harder than others, and this is due to the fact that the team plays in the ACC conference. The team itself made it possible for committee members to leave it outside the four. Victory over North Carolina came back with a difference of one point.

The difference in approach is obvious when you compare Clemson and the third Alabama. At the moment, both teams have no victories over rivals from the top 25, as Texas A&M dropped out of the rating after the seventh week. The same victory for them remains the most “significant”. Clemson defeated more Power 5 opponents; his opponents' results this season are better than those of Alabama's opponents.

Obviously, there is some restraint. In past years, when Clemson entered the playoffs, the team also had close games with rivals in the division (for example, 27-23 with Syracuse), but they did not affect the team’s position. There is probably consensus among committee members that ACC is the worst Power 5 conference ever.

Of course, this is facilitated by the fact that only Wake Forest is now in the top 25 except Clemson. Weak or medium seasons are spent by Syracuse, Florida State, Miami.

Clemson does not help superiority in other indicators: a big difference in points, seven matches with 40 points, a winning streak of 24 matches, the league title, finally. Even advanced metrics like FPI and SP +, which put Clemson ahead of Penn State, ranked fourth.

The playoff committee made it clear that the teams will be evaluated here and now, without taking into account past merits, even if the current champion cannot defend his title. It is also obvious that the strength of the schedule is only one of the factors that influence the rating.

After an unsuccessful first quarter in a game with Louisville on October 19, Clemson beat his rivals with a total score of 160-31. Trevor Lawrence did not throw interceptions for this segment, and the attack of the team reached its peak.

After that same game with North Carolina, coach Dabo Swinney defended his team: “Winning is never easy. I know that many people think that we should destroy our rivals. They don’t have scholarships, they don’t have trainers, they don’t have anything else. It doesn’t work like that and we are all just people and we are not perfect. Unfortunately, we cannot play perfect every time. But we were able to win a difficult match. ”

So far, we see that a difficult match against a weak opponent is not something that can convince members of the playoff committee. Clemson could probably avoid this scenario only by winning with a difference of 30 points. However, even then the question would remain - should the team be higher, given the level of expectations from their rivals.

College football | NCAA

Of course, the picture will change in the very near future. This weekend will play LSS and Alabama. Penn State will play against invincible Minnesota, and on November 23 they have a game with the Ohio State. If Clemson wins his match, he will almost certainly rise to the top 4. But the first rating shows that the team has no right to make a mistake. To get into the playoffs with a possible defeat they will only help the general chaos, in which there will be no teams without defeats.

Swinney can say anything, but Clemson should be perfect. And even in this case there will be many questions for him if the team nevertheless enters the playoffs.