OPINION: Clemson Doesn’t Belong In The College Football Playoff
The No. 1 ranked Clemson Tigers had their yearly close win against an unranked team in the disappointing Atlantic Coast Conference. After squeaking out a win from a then 4-2 Boston College squad, it’s clear to me that a competitive 2020 College Football Playoff shouldn’t include the Clemson Tigers.
For starters, the outset of the strange truncated season saw the three major conferences, SEC, ACC, and the Big Ten, all move to a 10-game conference-only schedule. At that same time, the SEC and Big Ten combined to have 13 teams collectively ranked in the AP top 25. The ACC on the other hand, had just two programs earn a spot on the same list. Through week 10, however, the SEC and Big Ten share a total of nine ranked teams, compared to the ACC’s three.
But an important statistic to consider, especially when mentioning post-season placement, is the strength of schedule. After playing and winning their first seven straight games, Clemson’s schedule is listed as the 22nd most difficult campaign. In fact, the ACC squad with the most challenging season to this date, the Virginia Cavilers, only ranks at 14th according to teamrankings.com.
This points to a fact that college football fans point out each season and every Clemson fan hates to admit: the ACC is soft.
Now, this isn’t Clemson’s fault, especially in a conference-only scheduled season. And trying to insinuate that Clemson is a bad team would be gravely misleading. But, just because a championship-caliber football program under Dabo Swinney beats up on a bunch of disadvantaged basketball schools in the ACC, doesn’t mean their players are for competition who can match them, year-in-and-year-out when it comes to talent. If a team like Alabama or Florida sees the Clemson Tigers in the post-season, the SEC teams should, in theory, be further prepared to match up with the talent which Swinney and his program attract.
If the College Football Playoff Committee made me ‘King for a day’ to select the final four teams:
4) Notre Dame Fighting Irish
For their first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference, their perfect 6-0 record either means: the Fighting Irish are the real deal, or the ACC is just as soft as most of the college football community thought. Their toughest matchup for their inaugural year is coming this week against the ACC bully, Clemson Tigers (minus Trevor Lawrence) at home in South Bend, IN.
3) BYU Cougars
The Cougs’ start their odd patchwork season a perfect 7-0 and have a Heisman candidate QB in Zach Wilson to hold faith in. While their final record, at best, could only include two wins against top 25 programs this season, it’s the willingness from their team to face any available school that they can manage to schedule that sets their grit and confidence above other teams with similarly weak schedules.
2) Ohio State Buckeyes
Even though QB Justin Fields and the Buckeyes showed up late to the 2020 college football, they still managed to show up in style. Through just two games, Fields has kept Ohio State perfect while accounting for seven touchdowns from 644 total offensive yards. As long as the Bucks take home the Big Ten championship (as projected), it’d be difficult to leave them out of a final four.
1) Alabama Crimson Tide
According to the SEC, this 2020 Crimson Tide offense leads ALL 14 conference teams in points per game (47.17), total yards per game (555.17), passing yards per game (380.0), and rushing touchdowns on the season (18). So, despite losing arguably the best QB in Alabama history AND two additional offensive weapons in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Nick Saban and his Crimson Tide still manage to set the conference for excellence. At the rate Alabama has pillaged through this SEC-only schedule, the conference championship and the No.1 bid in the College Football Playoff are theirs to lose.