CLEMSON FOOTBALL

Pittsburgh is now a viable contender for the ACC crown.
Pittsburgh is now a viable contender for the ACC crown.

Clemson is no longer the ACC favorite for ESPN predictor


by - Staff Writer -

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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