ESPN reveals unofficial Playoff rankings: Clemson's potential is "through the roof"


by - Senior Writer -
Kirk Herbstreit thinks Clemson's potential is
Kirk Herbstreit thinks Clemson's potential is "through the roof" (Photo by Kelly L Cox, USAT)

The first College Football Playoff Selection Committee rankings of the 2019 season will be announced live on ESPN beginning at approximately 9 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. CT* on Tuesday, November 5, and Clemson will likely have one of the top four spots in those rankings.

(*ESPN will reveal the rankings live from the State Farm Champions Classic doubleheader at Madison Square Garden between Kansas vs. Duke and Michigan State vs. Kentucky basketball games.)

ESPN aired an “unofficial” College Football Playoff rankings show Tuesday night, with analysts Kirk Herbstreit, Joey Galloway, David Pollack, and Jesse Palmer each unveiling their top four. Galloway, who has had Clemson in the top spot all season, was the only analyst to have the Tigers in the top spot.

“I have the defending national champion, who is undefeated, in Clemson at number one,” Galloway said. “We talk so much about Trevor Lawrence and interceptions, but they’ve only played in one close game and have blown everyone else out, so they’re still number one for me.”

Galloway then went on to say that the Tigers are a matchup nightmare.

“I really look at a team’s ability to create a mismatch for a team that they play and we know that Clemson is as talented as anyone in the country, especially on the offensive side and that’s where our concern has been,” Galloway said. “Trevor Lawrence and his interceptions, at times offensively they don’t look great, but we’ve seen this team play great. We know with those weapons – (Justyn) Ross, (Tee) Higgins and Amari Rodgers – you add (Diondre) Overton to that field now, (Travis) Etienne in the backfield, who is the reigning ACC Player of the year. We know how talented they are and anybody they play, no matter if it’s the Top-4 or Top-20, they will create such a mismatch on offense that they’re going to be tough to beat and those mismatches they create.”

Herbstreit said the Tigers might indeed be number one – somewhere down the road.

“If you look at Clemson – and we tease you (Joey) about keeping them number one after the season they’ve had to his point – you can make that argument that if you’re forecasting down the road. This Clemson defense, I can’t believe,” Herbstreit said. “You lose all those defensive lineman and Brent Venables has a defense that is better this year than maybe they were last year, at least at this point statistically. It’s a matter of time. We got a little taste of last week with what Trevor Lawrence was able to do with those weapons. They were finally able to hit on all cylinders. Their potential is through the roof but as you said, we just haven’t seen it on a consistent basis.”

Palmer said Clemson appears to be a lock for the College Football Playoff.

“I can’t wait to see next week where the committee puts Clemson because I think all of us would agree that of the top six teams on our list right now, Clemson is probably the most likely, the lock, to make the playoff based on the conference they play in, based on how good they can be when they’re playing their A game,” Palmer said. “I think for all of us, it’s human nature to remember how good Clemson was a year ago -- especially in the second half of the year –- how good Trevor Lawrence was late in the season, especially in the national championship game.

“But, if you’re evaluating 2019 on the field through nine weeks, there has been inconsistency on offense, Trevor Lawrence hasn’t been as consistently good as the other quarterbacks in our top four and they do have that one close game – a narrow win – against UNC, which the other teams in our top four don’t have a win as narrow as that. So, I think if you’re evaluating what you’ve seen this year, I think it’s fair to at least have Clemson No. 4 right now. I think all of us agree that easily talented enough when they play their A game to be the best team in the country.”

The College Football Playoff matches the No. 1 ranked team vs. No. 4, and No. 2 vs. No. 3 in semifinal games that rotate annually among six bowl games – the Goodyear Cotton Bowl, PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Capital One Orange Bowl, Allstate Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual. This season’s Playoff Semifinals will take place Saturday, December 28, 2019, at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl and Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. The College Football Playoff National Championship will be Monday, January 13, 2020, at Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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