Clemson is no longer the ACC favorite for ESPN predictor


by - Staff Writer -
Pittsburgh is now a viable contender for the ACC crown.
Pittsburgh is now a viable contender for the ACC crown.

Metrics still don't quite know what to do with the 2021 Clemson Tigers, but at least one doesn't have Dabo Swinney's group topping the ACC for a seventh-straight season.

ESPN's Football Power Index (FPI) now favors Pittsburgh to take the conference crown (43.5), with Clemson next (23.1) then NC State (15.3) among double-digit chances. That's despite Clemson being No. 7 in the FPI rankings currently, where Pittsburgh is No. 10. The next-best ACC team there is UNC (20).

One major factor could certainly be the 4-1 Panthers hosting Clemson on Oct. 23, where a second ACC loss could doom the Tigers' Atlantic Division hopes. Clemson is currently given a 45.5% win chance at Pittsburgh, before an 80% or better shot versus the rest of the slate.

The Panthers rank in the top-10 efficiency-wise on offense (6) and defense (10) according to ESPN, compared to a No. 91 ranking on offense and a fifth-best defensive mark for Clemson.

Pittsburgh has a 28th-ranked strength of record, compared to Clemson's 33rd-best rank. Pitt is 12th in the game control metric (Clemson is 17th).

Elsewhere in metrics, ESPN's SP+ ($) still has Clemson fourth overall in its predictive rankings (No. 29 offense/No. 2 defense/No. 26 special teams) with Pitt up to 13th there (No. 11 offense/No. 29 defense/No. 14 special teams).

On Football Outsiders, Clemson is 11th (No. 46 offense/No. 3 defense) and Pittsburgh is 29th (No. 42 offense/No. 24 defense), with Wake Forest actually No. 2 from the conference there (No. 30 offense/No. 33 defense).

ACC top-5 by the metrics

FPI: 1. Clemson (16.9) 2. Pitt (15.7) 3. UNC (10.9) 4. NC State (10.2) 5. Miami (8.4)

SP+: 1. Clemson (22.7) 2. UNC (17.7) 3. Pitt (16.7) 4. Virginia Tech (11.2) 5. NC State (9.5)

FEI: 1. Clemson (.67) 2. Wake Forest (.45) 3. Pitt (.38) 4. UNC (.34) 5. Virginia Tech (.32)

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